Riga is the capital city of Latvia which is part of the European Union and Schengen community. For tourists and photographers Riga offers the following points of interest;
- Freedom monument
- House of Blackheads
- Riga old town
- Riga orthodox cathedral
- Art nouveau district
- Riga castle
- Railway bridge
- Church of St Peter
- Riga dome cathedral
Riga is a very walkable city and it is possible to see nearly all the points of interest on foot. There are lots of local maps available free of charge, or you can use google maps / maps.me to navigate the city. If you don’t want to walk or the weather is too bad, there is a city bus tour which will take you to all the points of interest. There are lots of good restaurants, bars and hotels in Riga old town. In the areas surrounding the old town, there are some great hotel deals to be discovered.
The Freedom monument was originally erected in 1935 to honor the soldiers of the Latvian war of independence from 1918-1920. It was never demolished or altered when Latvia was annexed to the Soviet Union. When Latvia became independent again on May 4, 1990 thousands gathered at this monument to celebrate. There are always two armed guards at the monument 24 hours a day, changing shifts, unless the weather is too bad or too cold.
A couple of great photo spots in Riga are from the bar on the top floor of the Radisson Blu Latvija, which is behind the orthodox cathedral. From here you can get a great panoramic of the whole city. Another place I recommend to photograph is the Railway Bridge, at night you’ll get a great reflection shot!
The house of Blackheads is a very impressive building which was originally erected in the 14th century by the brotherhood of Blackheads. This brotherhood contained, local unmarried merchants, shipowners and foreigners. In 1580 and 1886, most of the decorations were added to the building, before being bombed by the Germans in 1941 and then demolished by the Soviets in 1948. The building you see today is a reconstruction of the original design which was built in 1995. It is a beautiful building to photograph!
Riga bus station is located around the corner from the Riga train station and there is no train service to Tallinn so you must go by bus. There are 2 main bus companies serving this route, Ecolines and Lux Express. The services to Tallinn offer personal in-seat entertainment systems with movies, music, computer games, and your GPS position. You can also make use of the phone chargers and free WiFi available. Don’t forget, you can always look out of the window!
There was an interesting documentary made recently about Riga, Guy Martin, Our Guy in Latvia. He is, like myself, a northerner but the reason he was in Latvia was because his Grandad was Latvian and he wanted to trace his routes. It’s very interesting and he uncovers a lot of history about the country and people.