Riga, Latvia

Riga - 3 nights Nieburgs Hotel and TripdAdvisor and Hotel own web site

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The Nieburgs Hotel was a good choice for us. It is in the centre of the Old Town of Riga, housed in a listed Art Nouveau building in a quiet little street just off the Dome Cathedral. The hotel is a blend of the original art deco exterior with a contemporary interior. The hotel windows give views of the Old Town and the city skyline across the River Daugava.


Riga, with a population of 700,000 is the largest city in the Baltic States. Riga's historical centre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city is particularly notable for its extensive Jugendstil (German Art Nouveau) architecture, which UNESCO considers to be unparalleled anywhere in the world.

The 20th century brought World War I and the impact of the Russian Revolution of 1917 to Riga. The German army marched into Riga on 3 September 1917. On 3 March 1918 the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, giving the Baltic countries to Germany. Because of the Armistice with Germany of 11 November 1918, Germany had to renounce that treaty, as did Russia, leaving Latvia and the other Baltic States in a position to claim independence. Latvia, with Riga as its capital city, thus declared its independence on November 18, 1918. Between World War I and World War II (1918–1940), Riga and Latvia shifted their focus from Russia to the countries of Western Europe. The United Kingdom and Germany replaced Russia as Latvia's major trade partners.

During World War II, Latvia was occupied first by the Soviet Union in June 1940 and then by Nazi Germany in 1941–1944. The Baltic Germans were forcibly repatriated to Germany. The city's Jewish community was forced into the Riga Ghetto and concentration camps were constructed . In October 1944 Latvia was once again occupied by the Red Army. As a result of the war Latvia lost approximately one-third of its population. Industrialization and growth of infrastructure led to many people from other parts of Soviet Union moving to Riga, and most of those people were not of Latvian ethnicity. In effect, as a Latvian city it never really had a majority Latvian population other than for a short 20 year long period between the wars.

The result today is that Riga's population is about 40% Latvian, 40% Russian, and 20% various other ethnic groups. The policy of economic reform, introduced in 1986 as Perestroika, led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the restoration of independent Latvia in 1991. Latvia formally joined the United Nations as an independent country on 17 September 1991. In 2004 Latvia joined both NATO and the European Union. Virtually the sole "in your face" bit of the Russian occupation of Riga is the statue of the Riflemen and the Occupation Museum
Hitler succeeded, as he did in most East European countries, in as much as there are virtually no Jews in Riga today. The memorial is the only sign that they ever existed here. The Art Nouveau buildings from earlier years have remained, and were not destroyed by the 20th century warfare that rolled back and forth across the city.
Whilst these building are not everywhere, they are certainly plentiful, and one can appreciate their architecture in many of the city streets. All be it that to get to some of the more architecturally rich Art Nouveau areas was a longish walk from the city centre. Still the exercise, I am sure, did us good
Other interesting buildings are the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and the Freedom Monument which honours soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence (1918–1920). It is considered an important symbol of the freedom, independence, and sovereignty of Latvia. The Soviets apparently nearly pulled it down during their occupation
Known locally as Stalin's Birthday Cake, the Academy of Sciences edifice was built after World War II, between 1953 and 1956, as a gift from the workers and peasants of the other Soviet republics to the Latvian people, and is decorated with several hammers and sickles as well as Latvian folk ornaments and motifs. It is not really kitted out for tourism, but we were able to take the lift to the top, and admire below us the Zeppelin Hangers that are now used as a local market.
Just to show Riga is not all high architecture, the building on the left has cats on the top making an appropriate gesture to the burgers of the Guild, meanwhile down at street level, the Little people were very friendly and even a cow featured on this local restaurant opposite .
..our hotel. We never did get to eat there. But we did manage to stuff down a few buns in this cafe. Indeed the cakes everywhere were invariably very good.



Our Itinerary in the Baltics