Riga is the capital of the small Baltic country of Latvia in Eastern Europe. It’s the largest city in the Baltic States & is a major shipping centre sitting, as it does, at the south end of the Gulf of Riga, on the mouth of the Daugava River. Founded in 1201 by German crusaders, the city accommodates a mix of medieval buildings and contemporary office towers and factories. Just like its Baltic neighbours of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia (to the north), & Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania (to the south), Riga boasts a charming UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town. However, unlike Tallinn & Vilnius, Riga’s Old Town is particularly notable for its extensive Art Nouveau architecture, gawking at which is a definite highlight of a visit to the city.

A statue of St Roland, Riga's patron saint, fronting The House of Blackheads, Riga's architectural gem. Riga, Latvia. March 3, 2006.

House of The Blackheads, Riga’s architectural gem, was first built in 1344 for the Blackheads’ guild of unmarried merchants. It has a rocky past having been badly damaged in 1941 & flattened totally by the Soviets in 1948. It was rebuilt from scratch to its present state in 2000 (which probably accounts for why it looks so great today). It can be found in Town Hall Square, the centre of which stands a statue of Saint Roland, Riga’s patron saint. This is a replica of the original statue which was erected in 1897 – the original was moved to nearby Saint Peter’s church during World War II for protection and it hasn’t moved since. Town Hall Square, Old Town, Riga (map-pointer-icon), Latvia. March 3, 2006 || From a March 2006 visit to Riga, Latvia.

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