Riga is a classy refined city that rejoices its history while flourishing youthful energy. Latvia got its independence from the Soviet Union around 23 years ago when in January 1991 Latvians revolted against the Soviet regime, and gained the right to restore the independence of Latvia ending 281 years of Russian occupation.
Riga, the capital city of Latvia, retains that history. When you walk in the streets of Riga do not be surprised to see ‘the history’ such as the building of the ex-Soviet Union’s Latvian branch (now is the World Trade Center of Latvia), the Latvian SSR Academy of Sciences building, the KGB building, the Freedom Monument, or the remnants of pieces of the Berlin Wall. You can touch and
feel their oomph. Riga is the city that allows you to live in the history.
Around 40 percent of the buildings in the center of Riga are in the style of Art Noveau. Start your journey from the 4 Alberta Street, where will haunt you with its magnificent heritage of architecture. No matter whether you have any, none or some knowledge about architecture, Riga will pull you deep inside to its heart to make you fall in love.
Pictures: © FINNBAY
Many of the architects of the Art Noveau were inspired by society, opera, and cultural traditions. The architecture style is characterized by an ornamental style, based on bent lines, asymmetric composition, and rhythms of irregular lines. The main motifs are nature, references to the antique art and mythology. Moreover, Art Noveau is not only interested in the front façade, but rather the overall character; hence, it also involves the interior, the shape of cutlery, and even the wardrobe of the inhabitants.
Want to have the comforts of a king when you are in Riga? The Gallery Park Hotel provides that and more. Our stay at this luxury hotel was enriching. The Hotel has been awarded the Best Hotel in Latvia and is located in the heart of Riga in a 19th century historical building that is on the list of the World Heritage sites by UNESCO. Upon opening its doors in 2009 (after spending two years to renovate), the Gallery Park Hotel established itself as ground zero for the wealthy.
Everything about this hotel is high-end. Its luxury rooms decorated with expensive antiques from France, Denmark, and Belgium. Its kitchen is the fifth best in Europe as of 2014. Starting our days with freshly squeezed orange juice, a vitamin shake mixture complimented with a-la-carte breakfast menu made a huge difference. Like the breakfast, its lunch and dinner services were exquisite.
Nothing may be more representative of the Latvian identity/culture than a traditional Latvian rye bread. To experience this national treasure, we were lucky to visit the main Latvian rye bread bakery, LACI. This special Latvian bakery is located 30 minutes driving from Riga city center.
It has the LACI café where you can try their food for which bread is an ingredient as well as to buy fresh rye bread and delicacies. However, there is nothing more special than cooking your own traditional Latvian rye bread in LACI’s professional bakery and then to be able to taste it. If you are in Riga, you must not miss this exclusive chance.
Henry’s restaurant is one of the best options to taste Latvian cuisine. Located in the heart of Riga, this cozy but luxurious restaurant provides top-notch service. Getting a dinner reservation can be tricky, as the restaurant is only open during
the evenings. The Latvian Chef Henry, who opened the restaurant after spending many years in New York, is genius in mixing exotic tastes together. If you want to taste an unforgettable Latvian dish, then you should try his special lamb sirloin. Whether it was the fresh vegetables, the meat, the sides, or the mixed sauce, the dish was exceptionally delicious.
Balzambars – filled up with pretty people and great music at night – is home for having lively award-winning cocktails. The bar is located in the Old town of Riga and the interior exudes midcentury-modern elegance. This cozy classy atmosphere makes it perfect to hang out with friends.
One of its kind, Balzambars, has a talented bartender who is ready to mix you the most original drinks you can ever try in Riga such as the traditional Latvian drink balsam, his award-winning special cocktail Clavis Riga, pure tequila, cohler or any one of your casual favorites.
You can reach Riga by airplane, cruising or bus if you are in Europe.