Travel

Architectural treasures of the world.

Architectural treasures of the world.

The capital of Latvia is very photogenic, and the houses seem to tell their own numerous historical secrets. Riga is located on the shore of the Gulf of Riga in the Baltic Sea on the banks of the river Daugava. The river divides the city into two parts — I managed to visit both. The center of attraction of tourists-the Old Town is located on the eastern shore, and it is here that it makes sense to walk, admire the beautiful architecture, go shopping and sit in countless cafes and cozy restaurants.
What is beyond the borders of the medieval part of Riga, a sophisticated tourist, and an unsophisticated one, too, will definitely not like it. There are houses of typical Soviet construction, which resemble the outskirts of some Russian town, and we are still in Europe.
The historical center of Riga is distinguished by the fact that it is new. Many ancient buildings were recreated after the destruction of the war years. Therefore, the gingerbread houses of the Old Town fascinate with their beauty and bright colors. Repair work on the restoration of buildings continues, so there is definitely no sense of abandonment in Riga.
The city has a very rich history, which dates back to the beginning of the 12th century — the fortress city was founded on the banks of the Daugava River by Bishop Albrecht von Buxhevden from the German city of Bremen. Like many localities of that time, the city grew around the church. Riga became the center of Livonia, and after a century and a half, the city became part of the famous Hanseatic League and became an important center of trade. This continues until the end of the 15th century, and then the city is under the rule of the Teutonic Order. Riga also belonged to the Swedes, and after the Northern War was part of the Russian Empire, and was part of the Soviet Union. The Baltic country joined the European Union in 2004.
Of course, all this has affected not only the mentality of the people, which you do not know until you talk to them, but above all, the architecture of the city. For example, on the Riga panorama, the Stalinist high-rise rises proudly, which easily fits into the panorama of Moscow. It houses the building of the Latvian Academy of Sciences. But the real “business card” of Riga, after all, is the Art Nouveau architecture. There is the largest concentration of such buildings per square meter, so it is difficult to single out one thing. Of course, the Old Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The houses are so beautiful that you want to look at them again and again. Since this is the second trip to Riga in just one month, I have different experiences of moving around the city. I really liked to admire the architecture from the windows of the bus, because from the ground you can not always see all the features of the upper floors.
And of course, in Riga there are wonderful cathedrals, the power, history and beauty of which is amazing. The Dome Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral-now added to my personal collection of visited religious sites in different countries. The huge Dome Cathedral literally did not fit into the frame — it reminded me of a monumental stone ship. The main attraction inside the Lutheran church is the same huge organ as high as a multi-storey building. The name of the cathedral was given by two Latin expressions-Domus Dei (House of God) and the abbreviated version of D. O. M. from Deo Optimo Maximo (All-good Greatest God). The Dome Cathedral is almost the same age as Riga itself, it began to be built under the founding bishop Albrecht. Like many temples of that time, it burned, experienced troubles that contributed to its destruction. Therefore, now we see the architectural ensemble of the cathedral, formed by the end of the 18th century.
Another equally majestic and monumental medieval cathedral is St. Peter’s Basilica. The temple can be seen from anywhere in the city, and the city itself can be seen from the high viewing platform of the temple. An elevator leads to it. And next to the church there is a small island of “paganism” – a monument to the Bremen Town musicians, which you need to rub for good luck. There is something similar in any European city, and not only in Europe.
By the way, the spires of Lutheran churches in Riga are crowned not with crosses, but with golden cockerels. It is believed that the rooster is a symbol of Christian vigilance. In the Gospel, the rooster recalls the words of Christ to Peter: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
St. Peter’s Cathedral is just a stone’s throw away from the Town Hall Square and the House of the Blackheads — another very recognizable symbol of Riga. The airy, lacy building of the 14th century belonged to the merchant Order of the same name, whose members chose Saint Maurice — a Moor by origin-as their patron saint. His black head was depicted on the official coat of arms of the merchants-hence the origin of the unusual, and therefore immediately memorable name. This magnificent building was badly damaged by the bombing of the Second World War and was restored 50 years later in the late 1990s. I wrote about this restoration “phenomenon” at the beginning of the article — the fate of many buildings of the Old City is similar to the House of the Blackheads.
You can talk about the beautiful architecture of Riga endlessly, but it is better to see once than to hear and read a hundred times.
However, in Riga you can admire not only the houses, but also the natural beauty in the heart of the city. Of course, I mean the Riga parks. For example, on the border of the Old Town, on the site of the demolished fortifications of Riga, there is a multi-level park Bastion Hill. This is a great recreational area in the city, which is so lacking in the central district of St. Petersburg. Along the park runs the Riga Canal, where you can take a boat ride.
There are many interesting sculptures and flower arrangements here. In general, walking and relaxing in the shade is a real pleasure!
Another attraction of the park is the Latvian National Opera.
And of course, just as you can’t imagine America without the Statue of Liberty, you can’t imagine Latvia without the Statue of Liberty. The 42-meter-high monument stands on Brivibas Square and symbolizes the independence of Latvia.
The female figure holds three stars above her head, which represent the three territorial parts of Latvia – Vidzeme, Kurzeme and Latgale. They are inextricably linked and symbolize national unity. Freedom Square is one of the main places of city holidays and gatherings of Riga residents.
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