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Top architectural sightseeing and landmarks of Riga - ideas on city exploration routes

Castle in Riga Church of St. Peter, National Library of Latvia, Latvian Academy of Sciences, and Riga Central Market are the architectural landmarks, the names of which always remind you the words 'Riga' and 'Latvia'. And this is natural, since these prominent landmarks are the ones that shape the historical and architectural look of Riga. Let’s look at these landmarks from high above, namely, from a bird’s eye view – click the video and make a flight over the architectural ensemble of Riga. In the main article, you can also read the most interesting facts about every famous landmark of Riga.

Church of St. Peter, Riga

» The Church of St. Peter is a symbol of Riga. This ancient attraction is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
» The first mention of the church dates back to 1209.
» The building was destroyed by fires but was rebuilt every time. In 1721, Peter the Great fought the fire caused by lightning.
» The tower with a spire was reconstructed only in 20 years. 200 years after, in 1941, the tower was destroyed by a German shell on the St. Peter’s Day.
» A new spire that looks similar to the old one but is made of metal was constructed in 1973. There are also two observation platforms at a height of 57 m and 71 m.
» Before the TV Tower was built, the Church of St. Peter was the highest construction in the city. It is 123.5 m high.
» The first clock was installed on the tower in 1352. Now, the restored clock with one hour hand beats every hour and plays Latvian folk music.

National Library of Latvia, Riga

» The National Library that is also known as the House of Light was opened in Latvia in 2014. It was preceded by a long preparatory period.
» Multiple competitions for library projects ended with the victory of Gunars Birkerts who agreed to work for free. This project was appreciated by UNESCO.
» The building was being built intermittently from 2006 to 2014 due to a lack of funds. The National Library was the most expensive building of such type in the world.
» In the House of Light, rich cultural heritage is kept. The library houses 6 million books in 50 languages.
» There is also the big collection of Latvian folk songs that is a cultural heritage too. This collection is among Cultural Objects at UNESCO.
» In the library, a lot of conferences, exhibitions, and concerts are held. There are a cafe and a restaurant. Everyone can go on an excursion in the library and use other services.

Latvian Academy of Sciences, Riga

» The Latvian Academy of Sciences was founded in 1946.
» The Academy building was built in 1960. Originally, it was built as the House of Farmers. The city authorities changed their minds and established an academic institution here.
» The Academy resembles Stalinist apartment houses. There are only two buildings of such type in Eastern Europe, in Riga and in Warsaw. In 2003, the building received a banner as an architectural monument of the 20th century.
» The Academy has 21 floors. On the 16th floor, there is an observation platform that has a panoramic view of Riga.
» When the Baltic countries gained independence, the Communistic symbols inside and outside (a star on the spire, bas-reliefs of Lenin and Marx) were demolished.

Riga Central Market, Riga

» Riga Central Market is one of the biggest markets in Europe. Its total area is about 6 hectares.
» The market consists of five unusual pavilions. In 1992, the city authorities decided to build a central food market. They bought hangars for airships left by German soldiers after the First World War.
» The market construction was started in 1924 and completed in 1930.
» The citizens were proud of a new spacious, bright, and modern market. Peasants sold their products here.
» In 1940, the conception of the market changed. Only state-owned and cooperative companies could trade here. Products were more expensive in the market than in stores. Peasants were not permitted to trade in pavilions.
» Today, Riga Central Market is the most popular tourist place in Latvia.

Virgin of Anguish Church, Riga

Location on the map:
Facts: » The Virgin of Anguish Church is a white and blue building in Riga. Over the years of its history, it had been reconstructed many times.
» The first stone church was built in 1765. It was the only Catholic church in the city.
» In 1780, Archduke Joseph II, the Emperor of the Roman Empire, visited Riga and the Virgin of Anguish Church when he traveled to Saint Petersburg. He was saddened by the plainness and disrepair of the temple.
» The Emperor made a substantial donation to it. The last King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Stanislaw Poniatowski and the future Emperor of Russia Paul, the son of Catherine II made a contribution too. A new church was built in 1783-1785.
» The building was reconstructed when Nicholas I visited it in 1854 and acknowledged that the church really needed to be extended.
» It was last renovated in 1895. Since that time, the church has always been open to visitors. It passed through wars and the Soviet period.
» Remarkably, in the film “Seventeen Moments of Spring”, you can see shots with Our Lady of Anguish Square and Church. In this episode, Professor Pleischner is going to a safe house.

St. James Cathedral, Riga

Location on the map:
Facts: » St. James Cathedral was allegedly founded in 1225.
» Over the years of its existence, the church has changed religion four times. Now, it is the most important Catholic cathedral in Riga.
» The church is crowned by an 80-meter pyramidal tower that was built in 1755 and has survived to the present day. The top of the tower is decorated with a weathercock.
» In the church, old gravestones with blurred inscriptions are walled up but there are no tombs.
» There are also two rare exhibits: a wooden sculpture made in the 14th century and a fragment of the painting on the wall.
» In 1819, serfdom was abolished in Livonia exactly in this church.
» As for the modern interior of the cathedral, broken beds with fresh flowers and plants.
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