Discovering Riga

Well, at the beginning I was thinking of making one post only on Riga and its streets. However, I have made hundreds of photos and it is impossible to put all the impressions from the city in one post. Therefore, I will show you just some interesting spots of Riga in this post. The picturesque facades and cobbled streets as well  as panoramic view from the Saint Peter Cathedral will come later, together with the useful links and addresses to remember.

On Saturday morning we woke up at 9 am Luxembourg time. Although, it was already 10 in Riga. Therefore we took our breakfast and went out to discover the city in day light. We had to hurry since the sun disappeared at that time of the year at 3:30 p.m. Since we stayed in a hotel in Riga old town it was easy to go everywhere. We decided to check the Central Market first.

Fresh vegetables and fruits called for new experiments in my kitchen

Marinated cabbage and carrot. Yummy!

Pickled garlic, salted mushrooms and home made spicy sauces

Onion, garlic and dry mushrooms

Dry fish – an excellent company to your beer

Smoked fish

Impossible to pass by

Fresh fish


Fortunately we had already taken our breakfast. Otherwise I would stop at every stand to try salads, pickled vegetable, pies and rye bread which was incredibly good

After the central market was done we headed to the park along the city canal which cut the old town from new districts.

In the park

A couple on promenade 

The view

A big duck family 

Love locks

Love forever

Riga Opera House

Unfortunately on the weekend of our visit there was no performance in the Riga Opera. Otherwise I would go for sure!

While Santa is working…

A little coal

The night snow still covered the land

 Another Christmas tree

 Watch tower, the only one which has survived after numerous wars 

 Can you see a part of the facade painted in slightly different colour? Before there was an advertisement of a local bank. Nowadays there are only the coat of arms of all Latvian cities and towns.

 House with cats

The Cat House is named for two black felines perched on the points of its towers. Not only did the beasts curse their first sculptor, he fatally fell while putting them up, but their purpose was to cause trouble. Roughly 100 years ago, the Latvian owner of the building was excluded from the powerful Big Guild across the road by its ethnocentric German occupants. He ordered the cats to be turned around, backside up, as an insult to his enemies. They were turned around after a lengthy court battle and he was eventually admitted to the Guild.

Dome square and a Bell tower of the Saint Paul cathedral

Dome cathedral. A view from its courtyard


Gallery of the Dome

Rooster is on holidays

Three brothers

Three Brothers is the oldest block of dwelling houses in Rīga located on Mazā Pils Street. The name “Three Brothers” has been given on the basis of similarity to the Three Sisters in Tallinn – a group of warehouses in the Old Town.

The oldest survived dwelling house of Riga

This house was built in 15th century when Rīga established contacts with merchants from the Netherlands.  As a result of this cooperation there are some traits of Renaissance characteristic of the Netherlands architecture started to appear in Rīga architecture as well.

Two younger brothers

Not far from the Three brothers there is Swedish Gate, another popular sightseeing attraction, a building with sad history behind.

Swedish Gate and Jacob’s barracks

Swedish Gate (Latvian: Zviedru vārti) is one of the most interesting constructions in Old Riga. It belongs to the former fortification wall surrounding all of the Old City. This is the only Riga gate that has survived in its original form.

Swedish Gate, street view

 In the year 1621 – the year of construction of the gate – Riga was under Swedish rule. Swedish occupation lasted until 1711. At that time the city had new architecture building: Âkovlevskie barracks or Jacob’s barracks and the Swedish gate. After Peter The Great had conquered Latvia, he ordered the destruction of Jacob’s barracks. New barracks were built on the same place a bit later.

Legend tells that the Swedish gate was built in the late 17th century. A proactive merchant in Riga decided to make a gate at his home No. 11 Street, Torna. He wanted to evade the payment of duties on goods that were imported legally through the Sandy city gates. As the gate was located at his home, the merchant decided to charge a fee for passing the gate.

There is another legend around this gate. One young Latvian girl tried to enter through the Swedish gate to see her beloved. Although guards managed to catch her. The girl had been treated very cruelly. She was immured in the wall while still being alive. Since them every night people may hear her terrible cries and moans.

A souvenir shop in front of Swedish gate

The tiny street running into Swedish Gate

The house of Blackheads

One of Riga’s architectural treasures, the House of Blackheads was built in 14th century. It was destroyed in 1941 and its ruins were completely demolished by the Soviets in 1948. Although it finally rose from the ashes in the late 1990s. Nowadays the medieval saying above its entrance states ‘if I should fall, build me again’.

This Gothic building with a Dutch Renaissance facade was used to house single members of the merchants’ guild who were also notorious revellers of their day. It’s even rumoured that their parties and feasts were often attended by royalty in disguise. Sadly, the President of Latvia has moved his offices here while Riga Castle is being renovated, so the building is currently not open to the public.

The square in front of the Blackheads house 

Just behind St. Paul Cathedral there is a monument of Bremen’s musicians: a donckey, a dog, a cat and a rooster


We had made a tour in the old town and came back to the gardens along the city canal. The snow of yesterday had melted away


Other posts on Riga:

On the streets of old Riga

Riga in Christmas lights

Art Neuveau on the streets of old Riga

Riga from the bird’s eye

Riga: my addresses