OVERVIEW BY COUNTRIES

Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.
List of most interesting, important and visually beautiful places of Latvia, ordered by categories.

NATURE 

CLIFFS, CAVES, HILLS, MOUNTAINS & BOULDERS


Licu - Langu cliffs (Līču - Laņģu klintis)

One of the most interesting, diverse and impressive cliffs in Latvia, stretching in the forest near Gauja river for about a kilometer and reaching up to 30 metres height. Full of interesting caves, niches, underground sources and other interesting marvels of nature. 

Great Ellīte (Lielā Ellīte)

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.

Skanais kalns (Skaņaiskalns)

20 metres high and 90 metres long, parabolically shaped cliff at the shore of Salaca river not only looks visually impressive but also makes interesting echo effect - when standing at the opposite shore and speaking, the echo from the cliff comes a moment later and creates an unusual impression that words are being repeated by someone standing at the cliff. As far as known, it's unique phenomenon in Baltic states and possibly even wider region.

Sietiniezis cliff (Sietiņiezis)

White sandstone formation high above Gauja river shore. Sietiniezis has an interesting shapes and could be partially compared with Czech Paradise ("Česky raj") sandstone cliffs, though, of course smaller - it's height doesn't reach above 15 metres.

Ergli cliffs (Ērgļu klintis)

One of the largest and mightiest cliffs in Latvia, over 20 metres high, 700 metres long and scenically located right next at Gauja river bend. Can be seen both from above, by walking a nature path on top of it and also from the shore or river level.

Dzilna cliff (Dzilnas iezis)

Less known and a bit more remote (there has to be taken several kilometers walk to reach it) but not less impressive cliff at Amata river - it's overal height is calculated even up to 40 metres which makes it one of the highest cliffs in Latvia.

Zvartes cliff (Zvārtes iezis)

Zvartes cliff is notable by it's scenic corbel - looks like the cliff has "stepped" into Amata river. A tourist also can (carefully) step in there, at least in summer season when the water level is very low and you can cross the stony river bed. Thanks to also the great vantage points on the cliff, Zvartes cliff is one of the most popular outcrops in Latvia.

Rauna Travertine cliff (Raunas Staburags)

Rauna Staburags travertine cliff is quite a unique nature monument in whole Baltic states - there isn't information about any other similar places (of this size) from Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia. The cliff has started to form some 9000 years ago by the process where the moss is limed by calcium-rich spring water, and it still continues. The cliff is currently 3,5 metres high and 17 metres in length.

Veczemju cliffs (Veczemju klintis)

One of most beautiful cliffs in Latvia is located on sea side, Vidzeme stony coast. It's Veczemju sandstone cliffs, almost half kilometer long rocks (interesting that before the strong storm in January 2005, the length of the cliffs was much smaller - just 160 metres) which is even more unusual due to the various caves and niches in them which offers unique photo opportunities.

Gutmana cave (Gūtmaņa ala)

There are more interesting caves in Latvia for explorers, but Gutmana cave is the largest and undoubtedly the most popular one with a long history. It's located in the tourist hotspot Sigulda, and there were times (1970ies) when the cave had 1,5 million tourists per year which made it one of the most visited caves in the world!

Nicgale boulder (Nīcgales lielais akmens)

Nicgale boulder is the largest boulder in Latvia - it's total volume reaches 170 cubic meters. However, some other boulders in Latvia looks even more impressive - large part of Nicgales boulder is sunken in the ground.

LAKES, RIVERS, WATERFALLS, SEA


Kolka cape (Kolkas rags)

One of Latvia's most intriguing and mysterious nature pearls - northernmost tip of Western Latvia (Kurzeme) region, the meeting place of two seas - Baltic sea from the left and Riga Sea Gulf from the right. This has been historically dangerous place for sailors, many ships have crashed on the sandbank, becoming an easy targets for pirates who misled ships by lighting up fires on the coast and then looted them.

Vidzeme Stony coast (Vidzemes akmeņainā piekraste)

Vidzeme Stony Coast is a wonderful seaside area where to take hikes and observe sunsets. The beaches here for kilometers are covered with larger and smaller boulders, making the unusual and interesting scenery, supplemented also by several nice cliff outcrops along the coastline.

Baltic sea bluff (Baltijas jūras stāvkrasts)

West coast of Latvia boasts with beautiful seashore bluff which stretches for several tens of kilometers. The sandy coasts have made bluffs up to 20 metres high, and they are constantly washed out by sea which occupies more and more of land every year.

Venta Rapid (Ventas rumba)

Although low, Venta rapid is widely regarded as the widest waterfall in Europe, which can reach width of 250 metres. Every spring there can be observed an interesting phenomenon of "flying fishes" - vimbas trying to get upstreams, on the upper side of the waterfall.

Zartapu waterfall (Zārtapu ūdenskritums)

One of best kept semi-secrets in Latvia's nature - unusual and very beautiful waterfall. It's not between the widest or highest waterfalls in Latvia but this one is especially scenic because of the red dolomite as it's base cliff.

Great Inkulu waterfall (Inkuļu lielais ūdenskritums)

This beautiful and unusual (for Latvia) waterfall close to Cesis town has became a very popular place in recent years. The waterfall is partially natural, partially artificial - originated in previous quarry.

Kemeri sulphur ponds (Ķemeru sēra dīķi)

Kemeri sulphur ponds is another interesting and rare feature of Latvia nature - these ponds consists of sulphur-rich water and they becomes especially visually interesting in spring time when different microorganisms starts to breed there, coloring the water yellow and orange.

Lubans lake (Lubāna ezers)

Latvia's largest lake is important not only because of the fact it's largest but also because it's a notable monument of engineering - there is created a complex system of canals, dams and sluices to redirect rivers around the lake (because of the great floods Lubans created in past). It has also created an interesting landscape sceneries and environment around the lake.

Devil's lake (Velnezers)

Devil's lake is regarded as one of most mysterious places in Latvia, people have been afraid of it long time ago. The stories goes that unexplained things happens here - electronic instruments may not work, people get lost in the nearby forest, etc. The fact is that there is almost no fish and water plants in the lake, and the birds also prefer to avoid this place.

Engure lake (Engures ezers)

Engure lake is an important bird nesting place, there are also pasture of wild horses and cows next to the lake. But visually most impressive and unique is the man-made canals in the reeds at the lake's northern part for making it more appropriate to bird nesting.

Devil's Lap (Velna klēpis)

Devil's Lap is an unusual place in Vidzeme region - around 100 metres long stones compaction on the small river Naruza, created naturally due to river's flow through stony moraine.

PARKS, GARDENS, FORESTS, BOGS, TREES


Great Kemeri bog (Lielais Ķemeru tīrelis)

One of the most popular places in Latvia to hike out in nature and not without a reason - Great Kemeri bog landscape which consists of countless ponds is unusual and amazing. There is a more than 3 km long nature trail with a small observation tower leading through this scenic area.

Rundale palace garden (Rundāles pils dārzs)

Rundale palace French style Baroque garden is the largest and most important royal garden in the Baltic states. Regular, ornamentally shaped pathways and alleys, various colorful rose breeds, Green Theatre, fountain and many other attractions and romantic hideouts waits a visitor here.

National Botanical garden (Nacionālais botāniskais dārzs)

National Botanical garden with it's 136 hectares area and more than 14 000 breeds of plants, flowers, trees, bushes is the largest botanical garden in Baltic states. It's a well landscaped area where to enjoy nature at it's beautiful diversity.

University of Latvia Botanical garden (LU botāniskais dārzs)

Another wonderful botanical garden, located in Riga, offering also Tropical House. Especially scenic it gets in late spring when the rododendron blossoms creates a very colorful environment there.

Opera garden & Bastejkalns (Operas dārzs un Bastejkalns)

Most crafted park of Riga is the one surrounding city's canal, in the area around Bastejkalns hill and National Opera building. Various landscaping elements such as fountains, bridges, lanterns, greenery, etc, can be enjoyed here.

Skriveri Dendrological park (Skrīveru dendrārijs)

Skriveri dendrological garden has the unique collection of Northern hemisphere tree species, important on the European scale. There are more than 300 species of trees growing in the park - and 30 of them are rare species.

Forests of ancient dunes in Slitere National park (Slīteres nacionālā parka kangari un vigas)

Slitere National park forest has a unique relief system, made of ancient, prolate dunes and hollows between them. They originated around 6000 years ago when the whole place still was a seabed - the waves and later wind made these sand formations, said to be largest of this type in Europe. There are several nature trails for legal and comfortable walks through this protected nature reserve.

Kaives oak tree (Kaives dižozols)

With a circumference of more than 10 metres, Kaives oak tree is the thickest oak tree in the Baltic states and whole Eastern Europe, as well as the 11th thickest oak tree in Europe. It has lost summit a century ago due to lightning strike - one can only imagine how impressive it would look like if preserved the full height.

Sasmaka Idol lime tree (Sasmakas (Valdemārpils) Elku liepa)

Sasmaka Idol lime tree is another one of stoutest trees in Latvia (it's girth - 8,3 metres), besides it is visually very impressive - with a huge, convoluted branches to all sides, resembling a giant octopus.

Rietekla juniper tree (Rietekļa kadiķis)

According to enthusiasts collected data (there is no official statistics) Rietekla juniper tree is the thickest juniper tree in Europe (girth more than 3 metres). It's 200 years old but hard to say how long it will grow, because the tree has tilted to one side.

VANTAGE POINTS 

Keizarskats view (Ķeizarskats)

Area around Sigulda town is locally called the "Little Switzerland" and has always been one of the tourist hotspots in Latvia. Several great vantage points is to be found in this area, and one of the most impressive is Keizarskats view - here a wide panorama of Gauja river valley is visible, with Turaida castle also seen in distance.

View from Turaida castle tower (Skats no Turaidas pils torņa)

Turaida castle tower offers amazing 360 degree view to all sides around Gauja river valley at Turaida town.

View from Painters hill (Skats no Gleznotāju kalna)

Another popular Sigulda observation point where one can immerse himself in the view over vast area of green and hilly forests.

View from Ververi outcrop (Skats no Ververu kraujas)

After quite a wild walk through the forest, a traveler reaches this still "uncivilized" vantage point which offers stunning panorama of one of Daugava river bends in "Daugavas loki" nature park.

View from Vasargeliski observation tower (Skats no Vasargelišķu torņa)

Much more easily reachable is Vasargeliski observation tower on the other bank of Daugava river. Here opens up a panorama of another Daugava river bend. The view from here has even been used in Latvian national currency (before the country adopted euro in 2014), 10 lats banknote.

View from Aizkraukle castle mound (Skats no Aizkraukles pilskalna)

One of the mightiest natural vantage points in Latvia is 30 metres high Aizkraukle castle mound which offers view to Daugava river and the other bank. The physical feeling of vastness is thrilling here.

View from Makonkalns (Skats no Mākoņkalna)

Makonkalns hill offers beautiful view over fields and meadows to Rāznas lake - one of largest lakes in Latvia. It's an idyllic rural summer pastoral with meadows, agriculture lands and the mighty lake in background - as many points out, resembling the colors of Vincent Van Gogh paintings.

View from Bukurags cape (Skats no Bukuraga)

A place where to catch a beautiful, meditative feeling of solitude is Bukurags cape in the Western Latvia seashore where Baltic sea bluff is formed with almost geometrical accuracy and can be seen stretching for kilometers up to the horizon.

View from Zvartes cliff (Skats no Zvārtes ieža)

View from Zvartes cliff is almost a canonical landscape of Latvian central region Vidzeme countryside - river, forests, meadows, hills and even a historical threshing barn here forms a composition of all the classic elements of local area scenery.

View from Ergli cliff (Skats no Ērgļu klintīm)

Ergli cliffs offers great view to Gauja river meander and the nearby forests close to Cēsis town.

View from Smete hill tower (Skats no Smetes kalna torņa)

An unofficial vantage point on Smetes hill offers one of the most beautiful panoramas of Vidzeme central area, overlooking both Inesis and Alauksts lakes and a great, varied rural scenery. It's an old tower probably used for fire observation and it's risky to climb up there - but it's clear that an official observation tower should be established there.

View from Sabile castle mound (Skats no Sabiles pilskalna)

One of the best places in Latvia where to enjoy the view of nature in combination with a town is Sabile castle mound. Here opens up a wonderful views to charming town's red rooftops sinking in green foliage, as well as the opposite bank slopes of Abava river valley.

View from St Peter's church tower (Skats no Pēterbaznīcas torņa)

St Peter's church tower offers an observation platform at the height of 72 meters (it's accesible by an elevator). It's the most popular vantage point in Riga - many of the city's classic panorama views you find on the internet are taken from here. St Peter's church is located in Old Town, right in the middle of the city, thus it provides centrally located panorama point to whole Riga.

View from Radisson Blu hotel (Skats no Radisson Blu viesnīcas)

On the top floor of Radisson Blu hotel highrise there is a skyline bar - a place which offers probably the most beautiful panorama of Riga. The harmonious scenery includes centre boulevards and parks, Old Town and almost all the highrise accents in one, charming view.

View from Science Academy (Skats no Zinātņu akadēmijas)

Another great and increasingly popular observation point to Riga is the Science Academy building. From it's panorama deck at the height of 65 metres (which has plenty of space and is never overcrowded) you can see Riga centre from southern side with excellent perspective to Central market, Daugava river, National library, Railway bridge and Old Town.

View from TV Tower (Skats no Rīgas TV torņa)

Riga TV Tower is the highest structure in Riga (368 metres) and it offers vast panoramic views from it's 97 m high observation deck - the highest publicly accesible point to see the city. TV Tower observation deck is closed for public since May 2019 - the tower is being reconstructed. It is expected that the reconstruction could be finished in 2024.

CITIES AND TOWNS 

Riga (Rīga)

Main trump of Latvia's capital city is the unrivaled collection of Art Nouveau buildings from 20th Century beginning, as well as nice Old Town with a beautiful skyline made of medieval church spires. Riga has also got several modern landmarks, enjoyable parks, wide river in it's centre, good old perimetrical planning of it's 100+ years old central apartment districts and a big, cosmopolitan city feeling.

Liepaja (Liepāja)

Located at the western shore of Latvia, third largest town in the country charms with it's great historical architecture (many Art Nouveau buildings too), location at the Baltic sea and easy-to-reach beach, unusual structures of historical, gritty Karosta military district and a strong culture life (often labeled as the music capital of Latvia, Liepaja boasts with a brand new modern concert hall).

Kuldiga (Kuldīga)

Escaped war damage and conserved in time, Kuldiga offers the most authentic historical townscape experience in Latvia. It's old buildings, covered with red tile roofs, charming streets and a great nature monument - the widest waterfall in Europe (Venta Rapids) has made the place a strong tourist magnet.

Cesis (Cēsis)

Another good looking and cosy historical town which amazes not only by it's bit hilly and winding streetscapes but also medieval castle ruins and beautiful park surrounding them, old and tall church at the central square, as well as nature sights in the vicinities (Ergli cliffs at the Gauja river being the most impressive one).

Jurmala (Jūrmala)

Seaside town right next to Riga is the most popular resort in Latvia with 30 km long, wide sandy beach. But there is much to admire also for an architecture lover - many historical wooden villas as well as interesting modern buildings are hiding below the seaside pine forest.

Talsi (Talsi)

The main attraction of Talsi are it's lakes and it's hills - this town is blessed with several elevated natural vantage points from where it's panoramas can be observed. Exactly these topographic qualities, accompanied by some historical buildings which provides some of the best townscapes in Latvia makes Talsi between the most beautiful small towns in Latvia.

Ventspils (Ventspils)

Ventspils reputation and attractiveness is based mainly on it's ultra-developed infrastructure (the best in the Baltics) but the town has also pretty interesting historical centre with medieval castle, wooden and masonry buildings. Many urban environment objects such as fountains, sculptures, greeneries makes the cityscape enjoyable but the industrial harbor right in the opposite side of the river Venta adds a touch of rougher charm to it.

Daugavpils (Daugavpils)

The second largest town in Latvia boasts with a nice pedestrian street, impressive churches of various confessions, interesting relics of industrial era and the Tzarist time fortress which houses Marcus Rothko's museum nowadays. From modern developments, the highlight is Sports arena - probably the best architectonic achievement in Latvia of this type of buildings.

BUILDINGS 

CASTLES, PALACES, MANOR HOUSES, CASTLE RUINS


Rundale palace (Rundāles pils)

This baroque and rococo masterpiece of 18th Century is one of the most important and most popular architecture and landscaping ensembles in Latvia. The place where the dream of aristocracy is still alive. People loves it - Rundale palace with it's quarter-million visitors per year surely is one of the most visited and most famous Latvia buildings outside capital city Riga.

Jelgava palace (Jelgavas pils)

Jelgava palace is even larger than Rundale palace - it's the largest baroque style palace in the Baltic states (but has more modest interiors than Rundāle and doesn't have a royal garden). It was built in 1772, designed by the same architect as Rundale - Bartolomeo Rastrelli. In everyday, Jelgava palace functions as the Agriculture University of Latvia.

Riga castle (Rīgas pils)

Large medieval castle - the fortress of Riga and the main seat of Livonian Order who ruled Latvian territory since crusaders conquered it in 13th Century. Current castle was built around 1340. Nowadays it's the official residence of the president of Latvia.

Bauska castle (Bauskas pils)

Bauska castle was originally started to built in 15th Century. There is a medieval castle ruins and restored later addition - Renaissance style palace. Bauska castle museum is one of the most visited museums in Latvia - some 170 000 people visits it every year. Also the nature surroundings around the castle is impressive - it's built on castle mound between two rivers which flows together, creating the larger river.

Turaida castle (Turaidas pils)

Another castle with wonderful natural setting - Turaida castle - is standing atop of the hill, overlooking a scenic Gauja river valley next to Sigulda. Turaida castle is one of oldest medieval masonry castles built in Latvia by crusader invaders at the beginning of 13th Century. Built in 1214 in “brick gothic” style, it's quite different from any other medieval castle in Latvia.

Edole castle (Ēdoles pils)

Despite reconstructions and Neogothic additions from 19th Century, Edole castle has preserved many original features of a medieval castle. Especially beautiful is it's inner yard with an ancient well in the center of it.

Lielstraupe castle (Lielstraupes pils)

The mighty Lielstraupe Castle usually surprise by-passers on the road to Valmiera, Vidzeme largest town. It is located in Straupe village, and it's Baroque forms which are unusual in Latvia makes immediate impression, especially with the mirroring reflections in the pond next to it. Since 1963 it has houses a drug addiction rehabilitation hospital.

Koknese castle ruins (Kokneses pilsdrupas)

Koknese castle was one of the first and most important fortresses of crusader invaders - it was started to build by Bishop Albert already in 1209, so just a bit after the Riga castle. Nowadays it's one of the most scenic castle ruins in Latvia which are special also because of their location - at the level of Daugava river waters. In the past, it was on a high hill like any "normal castle" - but that changed after Plavinas hydro electric power plant was built.

Cesvaine manor house (Cesvaines muižas pils)

Often called a "palace", Cesvaine manor house is one of the most impressive manor houses in Latvia, like a small palace indeed. This Neo-Rennaissance manor house was built at the end of 19th Century (1897) for the German baron Emil von Wulf. It survived all the revolutions and wars of the twentieth century, but in 2002 the palace suffered heavily in a fire. All of the roof and second floor was destroyed - but most of interior elements survived and is gradually restored.

Mezotne manor house (Mežotnes pils)

Mezotne manor house is regarded as the most important Classicism style building in Latvia, which together with it's English style park creates a harmonious landscape ensemble. Manor house is well restored and offering hotel services, as well as a popular place for ceremonious events.

Jaunmoku manor house (Jaunmoku muižas pils)

Neogothic style Jaunmoku manor house was built in 1901 as a hunting house for legendary Riga mayor George Armitsted as his hunting residence. Jaunmoku castle is one of those buildings which offers numerous visual perspectives, the castle changes appearance with every step you take, while walking around it, closer and farther from it.

Pelci manor house (Pelču muižas pils)

The elegant red-bricked Pelci manor house (not far from Kuldiga town) which looks like taken out from some countryside scene in England, is perhaps the most beautiful of less known manor houses in Latvia. It's also one of rare Art Nouveau-style manor houses in the Baltic states, built in 1904.

CHURCHES


St Peter's church, Riga (Pēterbaznīca, Rīga)

St Peter's church is highest vertical accent of Old Riga and one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. First mention of the St. Peter's Church is in records dating to 1209 and until nowadays it's side walls have been preserved from that time. Nowadays church tower is 123 metres high but interesting that back in 15th Century it was higher - 136 metres. The church suffered in fires both in 1st and 2nd World Wars, it was rebuilt in Soviet times and the current tower is from that time, just around 40 years old.

Riga Cathedral (Rīgas Doma baznīca)

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.

Christ's Birth Cathedral, Riga (Kristus Piedzimšanas katedrāle)

One of four Orthodox cathedrals in Latvia, built at the end of 19th Century. As it's said back then it was the most expensive building in Riga. It luckily survived both World Wars but Soviet power closed and partially demolished it (sawn down the crucifixes, re-melted the bells) and in a symbolic move as a science victory over religion converted it into a planetarium. Reconstruction of the building has been on-going since the end of 90ies.

Old St. Gertrude church, Riga (Ģertrūdes baznīca)

Detailed, intricate and beautiful Eclecticism/Neo-Gothic church with a 63 metres high tower in the streets junction of Riga 19/20th Century apartment quarters. The 19th Century-middle built church creates the strong visual impression of ascending to the sky, it even resembles a rocket ready to take off.

Aglona Basilica (Aglonas bazilika)

Aglona Basilica is one of the most important Catholic centres in wider Eastern Europe region - every year, in August, here arrives tens of thousands of pilgrimages not only from Latvia, but also Lithuania, Poland and elsewhere. Visually, Aglona basilica impresses with it's harmonious Baroque look, as well as white colored silhouette on the sky background. Aglona Basilica has also very posh and beautiful interior.

St Nicholas Sea Cathedral, Liepaja (Sv. Nikolaja Jūras pareizticīgo katedrāle)

The largest Orthodox cathedral in Latvia and the highest cupola-covered building in the Baltic states. It was built in 1901 after the example of 17th Century Byzantine Orthodox style, most of the money came from Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his family wealth.

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Liepaja (Svētās Trīsvienības katedrāle, Liepāja)

Baroque cathedral of Liepaja (built in 18th Century) is especially famous for it's organ - with over 7000 pipes it was the largest mechanical organ in the world until 1968. The church has also impressive interior.

Dubulti Lutheran church, Jurmala (Dubultu luterāņu baznīca)

One of the most unusual and beautiful churches in Latvia - the largest in Art Nouveau style - is Dubulti Lutheran church in Jurmala town. The rounded shapes of the church, Fachwerk elements on it's bell tower, flora motifs, mascarons and other Art Nouveau elements makes it very charming.

Apriki church (Apriķu baznīca)

Apriki church, located in the "middle of nowhere" is one of the most surprising and must see churches in Latvia - very modest from outside, but splendid and extravagant from inside. It has Baroque and Rococo interiors with posh, unusual and also weird decors (like pine-apples), as well as wonderful ceiling paintings.

APARTMENT, OFFICE AND INSTITUTIONAL BUILDINGS


National Art Museum, Riga (Nacionālais mākslas muzejs)

The grand, palace-like building of Latvian National art museum is one of last Ecclecticism buildings in Riga (built in 1905) and the first in Baltic states which was built for the purpose of museum. In 2014, it got a total renovation as well as underground expansion.

National Theatre, Riga (Nacionālais teātris)

Another Neo-Baroque version of Historicism, National Theatre building was built as a theatre in 1902 and is still the theatre today. It has a special place in history of Latvia - exactly here independent Latvia state was founded in 1918.

National Opera, Riga (Nacionālā opera)

The Neoclassicism building was built in the middle of 19th Century as a German-speaking City theatre but in the independent Latvia state it houses National opera.

National Art Academy, Riga (Nacionālā Mākslas akadēmija)

Large, architecturally interesting Historicism "castle" built from bricks in 1903 as a commercial school, since 1940 the Mecca of art students. Neo-Gothic style was chosen as the best to represent Riga as a historical Hanseatic city.

House of Blackheads, Riga (Melngalvju nams)

The splendid House of Blackheads - a replica of original building which was built here in 14th Century for unmarried German merchants is one of the most photographed and tourist visited places in Riga.

Central Market, Riga (Centrāltirgus)

Unusual structure - five huge, semi-rounded hangars (Zeppelin hangars from World War 1), built in 1930ies in Art Deco style and nowadays houses the largest roof-covered market in Europe, probably the only market "for the masses" which can still compete with shopping malls (in this part of the world).

Three Brothers, Riga (Trīs brāļi)

These unusual looking buildings are the oldest complex of dwelling houses in Riga, the oldest one of them built at the end of 15th Century.

Swedish Gates, Riga (Zviedru vārti)

The only preserved gate of Riga fortification wall (there were eight of them in total). The gate was made in 1689 when a passage was built right through the dwelling house, in order to join the inner city with Swedish army barracks outside of the city wall.

Alberta street 4, Riga (Alberta iela 4, Rīga)

One of the most famous Art Nouveau masterpieces in Riga, designed by Mikhail Eisenstein. Some elements on it's facade are inspired by Vienna Secession building, nevertheless it's often labeled as the most original and outstanding example of Riga's Art Nouveau. 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.

Alberta street 2a, Riga (Alberta iela 2a, Rīga)

Another Art Nouveau pearl of Alberta street which can hypnotize it's observer. The surreal impression is achieved by fake 5th floor - the empty window openings which offers view to the sky. Tourists also love to take selfies with sphinkx sculptures which are situated in the front of the building's entrance, on the pavement.

Elizabetes street 10b, Riga (Elizabetes iela 10b, Rīga)

Third of the most iconic Mikhail Eisenstein's Art Nouveau buildings of Riga. 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.

National Library, Riga (Nacionālā bibliotēka)

The newest landmark building in Riga was opened in 2014 after 25 years old project made by one of most internationally famous Latvian architects Gunars Birkerts. The building symbolizes "Glass mountain" which is motive in the work "Zelta zirgs" of Latvian poet Rainis.

Swedbank office tower, Riga (Swedbank biroju ēka, Rīga)

World-class contemporary architecture design in the first modern highrise in Riga. It was built on the opposite Daugava river bank to Old Town in 2004 and can be listed between the best modern landmarks in Europe alongside London's Gherkin, Malmo's Turning Torso, Barcelona's Agbar and others.

Kemeri hotel/sanatorium, Jurmala (Ķemeru viesnīca/sanatorija, Jūrmala)

Huge, palace-like Neoclassicism and Neoeclecticism building, often compared with a white ship, was built in 1936 as a state's hotel - one of the most modern in Europe. In Soviet times, there was a sanatorium. Nowadays the building itself is renovated and it's planned to renew hotel there, but the nearby area today is still run-down (although gradually being redeveloped).

TECHNICAL & INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES


Irbene Radio Astronomy centre (Irbenes radioastronomijas centrs)

The 8th largest radio telescope in the world hides in the forests of North-Western Latvia, Ventspils region. The top secret Cold War structures (three towers, now two of them left) were originally intended to listen enemy's radio communications, nowadays it's being used to listen to sounds from cosmos, searching for the extraterrestrial intelligence.

Riga TV Tower (Rīgas TV tornis)

The 3rd highest free-standing structure in Europe (368 m) and one of the best soviet time architecture examples in Latvia. The traingle-shaped television and radio tower has one of the most unique and good looking designs of such type buildings in the world.

Riga Railway bridge (Rīgas Dzelzceļa tilts)

Riga Railway bridge is one of largest and most iconic structures in Riga, the mightiest railway bridge in Latvia. It is even more visually appealing due to it's night lighting which is turning the bridge to blue colors at night.

Rauna Railway bridge (Raunas dzelzceļa tilts)

Highest railway bridge in Latvia was built in times when industrial constructions still had architectonic beauty (in 1889, same year when the Eiffel tower was built!). It's unusual not only with it's height and beautiful masonry supports but also with some interesting fact - trains has to go over the bridge exactly with 80 km/h speed.

Kuldiga brick bridge (Kuldīgas ķieģeļu tilts)

Historical and impressive red brick arch bridge (built in 1874) over Venta river in Kuldiga was once one of the largest and most modern bridges in Europe. It was partially destroyed in World War I (two arches were blown up, later rebuilt).

Oskars Kalpaks bridge, Liepaja (Oskara Kalpaka tilts, Liepāja)

Oskars Kalpaks swing bridge consists of two separate parts which can be rotated in case the ship comes through the canal. This engineering wonder is one of the oldest steel construction bridges in Latvia, built in 1906. The legend goes that it's author, German engineer Harold Hall has designed it after a drawing of Gustave Eiffel, the architect of Eiffel tower.

Northern Forts, Liepaja (Ziemeļu forti, Liepāja)

Remnants of huge fortification system of Russian empire naval base in Liepaja, built at the end of 19th Century but soon acknwoledged as useless and "strategical mistake", unsuccesfully tried to blow up. Nowadays one of the places to find most unusual and moody photography experiences in Latvia.

Plavinas Hydro Power plant (Pļaviņu HES)

The second most powerful hydro electric power plant in European Union has let Latvia became a "green energy" country where around 40% of necessary electric energy is produced from renewable resources. The cost for that has been huge though - lost (flooded under the water) impressive nature values of Daugava river canyon which would surely got a place in this list.

OTHER PLACES 

Liberty monument, Riga (Brīvības piemineklis)

The Freedom Monument is perhaps the most important symbol of Latvia's independence in cityscape. It was built by people's donations in interwar period, 1935, and devoted to those who died in Latvian Independence War (1918-1920). The monument is 42 metres high and is made of of granite, travertine, and copper (Freedom statue at the top of monument has became green by oxidation). Freedom monument is nowadays used as a public gatherings place for official commemoration or celebration events.

Kinti Well (Ķintu aka)

Very unknown even for locals, but actually it's one of the most unique and mysterious man-made monuments in Latvia. It's at least 200 years old (but could be much older) well which is made of enormous stone blocks - largest of them weighs more than a ton each. The scientists haven't explained how the well was made (how it was possible to move around and process so large stones), who, when and why did it.

Riga Motor Museum (Rīgas Motormuzejs)

Of all Latvian museums, Riga Motor Museum is the one which certain (interested) people would visit from a faraway places. Founded in 1989, the largest antique vehicles museum in the Baltic states hosts a collection of more than 100 cars from different eras - starting from early 20th Century up to Soviet time car industry heritage, including notable examples such as cars of Soviet leaders Stalin, Brezhnev. After reconstruction which lasted from 2012 to 2016, the museum got many modern, interactive features - video screens, audio guides etc.