OVERVIEW BY COUNTRIES

Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.
These unusual sandstone archs are the only such formations in Latvia (the other ones have collapsed during time), they're presumably more than 6000 years old. Next to the arcade there is also a 23 metres long cave.
Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.
If Dan Brown would decide to write one if his cryptothrillers about Riga, then Riga Cathedral (Dom church) should be one of the main places to describe
MAIN FACTS
LOCATION Latvia, Riga
ARCHITECTURE Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque
BUILT 1211
ARCHITECT ?
RATING (9,4/10)
If Dan Brown would decide to write one if his cryptothrillers about Riga, then Riga Cathedral (Dom church) should be one of the main places to describe. It’s an impressive building with rich history and one of the most important architecture landmarks of Riga and Latvia. 

Ever-changing and trendy

The cathedral was started to built just 10 years after the founding of Riga itself - in 1211. Bishop Albert intended to build this church as an impressive landmark of new territories where to spread Christianity, a church which wasn't seen before in this part of Europe. 

To this day, Riga cathedral is the largest medieval church in the Baltic states, although it has gone through many changes throughout the years. Each age and each reconstruction has brought in new architecture elements in the cathedral's composition, making it the real mixture of styles. It was started to built as a classical Romanesque style church, later it got several excellent Gothic and Baroque style additions and even Art Nouveau boom didn’t pass the cathedral untouched - it's 20th Century-beginning entrance part, as well as one of the chapels is built in Art Nouveau style!
Once (in 14th Century) Riga Cathedral tower was even 140 metres high (now it's height is 93 metres). In 15th Century, it also looked different than today - the tower had a pyramid-shape spire with eight corners.

Damaged in the crossfires of confession wars

The church experienced it’s darkest times in 16th Century when Reformation supporters (Lutherans) thought that the best way to fight for their progressive ideas would be by destroying and demolishing the Catholic pr0perties... Dom church (like several other most important Riga churches) suffered heavily in the so-called “Icon riots” when many icons, paintings and other art values were destroyed. The riots were effective though - Lutherans got freedom of religion the next year and Lutheranism quickly spread in Latvia as the most popular form of Christianity (and religion). But the Dom cathedral (after the expulsion of Catholics from Riga) for a while stayed abandoned and in 1547 the church tower spire burned down in a fire. Afterwards Riga city bought the damaged church for 3,6 tonnes of silver and let Lutherans in. In 1595, the church was reconstructed and got a new tower. However, it wasn’t until 1775 when Riga Cathedral got it’s current, Baroque-looking tower spire - this reconstruction was done according to Riga city command.
    

Nowadays Riga Cathedral works as a Lutheran church, organizes worships on Sundays and also workdays, and special worships of a national scale on state events. It hosts also concerts (mostly classical, organ music, etc.). After 2006, when Cathedral was in so bad technical condition that it even got included in 100 world’s most endangered objects list by World Heritage Fund, it finally got carefully restored (works were done from 2011 to 2015).      
Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.
Is it the most iconic Art Nouveau building in Riga? Most probably - yes. Huge sculptural faces which tops this building's facade is often used as a symbolizing picture of Riga
MAIN FACTS
LOCATION Latvia, Riga
ARCHITECTURE Art Nouveau
BUILT 1903
ARCHITECT Mikhail Eisenstein
RATING (9/10)
Is it the most iconic Art Nouveau building in Riga? Most probably - yes. Huge sculptural faces which tops this building's facade is often used as a symbolizing picture of Riga, from tourism brochures to art history books. 

The duality concept

Buiding's sculptures symbolizes the struggle between world's rational and chaotic forces. Also the building itself is like a symbol of contradictions - both in regard to it’s artistical qualities, as well as to it’s author’s, architect’s Mikhail Eisenstein’s creativity, talent and originality. 

Architecture experts still tend to denounce Eisenstein’s buildings as too pompous, frivolous, created for a cheap popularity. They really may seem like an overdecorated Christmas trees - just a very posh facades with no relation to the “real soul of the architecture”. However, if we take this argument as valid, we can go further and say that any external decorations or even plays of forms which doesn’t strictly follows the rule “form follows function” aren’t a part of architecture and are unnecessary. And that is a dangerous step to take - because the next one would lead to the disastrous mistakes the architecture made in 1960ies - 1970ies.


Ode for woman

To me, Elizabetes street 10b and other Eisenstein’s buildings are “true soul” not only of architecture but the art in general. There is no need for any other proof than one’s own personal feelings (either you sense art there or not) - but educated people have took much deeper look to all the stuff on the building’s facade and found many interesting layers of symbolic meanings. Women would love some conclusions - the two heads on the building’s serpent is said to be symbolizing the feminine power, their face expressions exuberating a calm and rational approach, while the screaming male face is said to be symbolizing the opposite - “demonic and disturbing forces of the world”. Of course, it’s hard to verify whether such ideas was really behind the author’s imagination or they were born only in the observer’s mind. Some insights are to be found in the memories of Mikhail Eisenstein’s son, film director Sergei Eisenstein. He has told that there were also a strong inspirations of ancient Mayan Indians culture in the facade decorations of Elizabetes 10b.
    

The question of originality 

Next contradiction is related to the originality of the building’s design. As told, Elizabetes street 10b is one of Eisenstein’s most impressive and most famous buildings. However, two other author names should be mentioned besides him regarding to this building - it’s known that Eisenstein used the sketches from some architecture drawings collection, designed by Leipzig architects Georg Wünschmann and Hans Kozel. This fact (together with similar facts about some other Eisenstein buildings) has sparked a harsh words in direction to Eisenstein and Riga’s “decorative eclectic Art Nouveau” in general - by calling it a cheap plagiarism, for example. But, as an art historian Silvija Grosa writes, using the pre-made sketches in architecture was a typical characteristic of that time. Furthermore, if we explore the building closely and compare it to Wünschmann and Kozel sketch, we can see that, although the main composition and structure of the facade is indeed copied, there are many smaller details added by Eisenstein. Eisenstein was not only an architect but also construction engineer - so his devotion was also the practical work of bringing these German architects/his own visions to life.      
Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.
Building on Alberta street 4 is labeled as the most outstanding and original in Riga's Art Nouveau collection. It's phantasmagoric appearance and elegant facade
MAIN FACTS
LOCATION Latvia, Riga
ARCHITECTURE Art Nouveau
BUILT 1904
ARCHITECT Mikhail Eisenstein
RATING (9/10)
Building on Alberta street 4 is labeled as the most outstanding and original in Riga's Art Nouveau collection. It's phantasmagoric appearance and elegant facade rhythmic best of all embodies the role of Art Nouveau - to be as a messenger of a dream world in the material reality. It's like Riga's anaologue to Gaudi or Hundertwasser chef d'oeuvres for Barcelona and Vienna, evoking  otherworldly feelings - which is a sign of a true artwork. 

From hate to love

Alberta street 4 is built in 1904 and designed by famous starchitect of Riga Art Nouveau - Mikhail Eisenstein. His decorative Ecclecticism approach of the style is what was being hated 100+ years ago (often labeled as "tasteless") and what is being loved today as the most attractive feature of Riga Art Nouveau architecture. 


Playing with ornaments and geometry 

Alberta street 4 is a bit inspired by famous Secession building in Vienna - a superficial observer would not notice them but there are influences in some characters as well as the facade structure and rythmic. However the building speaks on it’s own unique language. Apart from the imaginary sculptures, it has also charming window style - oval-shaped, T-shaped and like a keyholes (a popular motif in Art Nouveau), as well as interesting facade geometry solutions - the inclined side risalites creates an optical illusion that the building walls is a bit sloping.
    

Luxury lifestyle 

Alberta street 4 has a total of eight apartments, between them there is also an embassy of Hungary. The building was renovated in 2007 (many original paintings and details in staircase were reconstructed). The apartment prices here are one of highest in Riga, up to about 7000 EUR per square meter - and, as the apartments are huge, they can cost up to 3 million euros.      
Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.

Riga, the capital of Latvia, offers several spectacular vantage points from where you can see a broad, unobstructed panoramic sceneries which provides a great overview of the city.

In this article you'll find the most comprehensive list of publicly available panoramic viewpoints in Riga - both those where you can see Riga from above and also beautiful panoramic skyline perspectives from ground level. You'll see photos from each sight, a short description and practical information of location, entrance costs, etc. 

Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.
Standing atop of a hill, overlooking a river valley, Turaida castle is one of two castles in Latvia with most picturesque nature backgrounds (along with Bauska castle).
MAIN FACTS
LOCATION Latvia, Sigulda parish
ARCHITECTURE Brick Gothic
BUILT 1214
RECONSTRUCTION 1970ies
RATING (8,4/10)
Standing atop of the hill, overlooking a river valley, Turaida castle is one of two castles in Latvia with most picturesque nature backgrounds (along with Bauska castle). Furthermore, it’s red brick silhouette on the green forests and blue sky (in a sunny day) makes a perfect color harmony too.
Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.
Active morning in Rome - people walk in their daily routes, the sun is climbing up on the almost always blue sky... Except that it's more than 11 years ago - in November, 2008. I have no clue how Rome looks these days but I suppose it's much more deserted, empty and silent as Italy battles with coronavirus COVID-19 epidemic. But this photo is taken exactly at those days when the last crysis - the global economic crysis - started. Let's hope the coronavirus crysis will be over faster than that last one, and Rome (as well as any other beautiful city on our planet) will be open zone to travelers again!