Today, I got lost in the labyrinth of narrow, cobblestone streets of Old Town Riga, Latvia. Luckily, I had a guide to lead the way when I got turned around. I can imagine, as a tourist without a local guide, it could be a bit frustrating visiting the town. With so many sightseeing opportunities and so many activities, it would be really difficult to choose only a few. After spending the entire day exploring the best that Old Town has to offer, I’ve chosen my top five tourist sights. Maybe you have additions to the list, but it’s a great starting point.
The House of Blackheads
The House of Blackheads was built in 14th century and belonged to the Guild of Unmarried Merchants. At the time, it was the richest and most prestigious venue in the city. It
was severely damaged and pillaged during WWII, but was rebuilt again in 1999 as an exact copy of the original with a magnificent Dutch Renaissance facade and amazing ceiling paintings inside.
St. Peter’s Church
St. Peter’s Church is one of the oldest and most valuable monuments of medieval architecture in the Baltic States. First mentioned in ancient chronicles in 1209, St. Peter’s was a Catholic church until 1523, when it turned Lutheran. Its wooden tower, the highest in Europe at that time, was destroyed several times. It first collapsed in 1666 and was rebuilt a year later. Artillery fire destroyed the structure again in 1941. In 1973, it was finally rebuilt. The observation platform at St. Peter’s Church provides the most spectacular panoramic views of the city.
Central Market is one of the largest and oldest markets in Europe with five food pavilions located inside vast converted Zeppellin hangars. In stalls around and between them, everything from clothes to beer is sold. It’s always bustling and a great place to observe local people, try local produce, and find some bargains.
Musicians of Bremen Statue
The Musicians of Bremen Statue is strategically placed between three major churches in Riga: Saint Peter’s, Saint John’s, and Saint George’s churches. The German city of Bremen is twinned to Riga and the statue is a 1990 gift from the German town. It is a bronze statue with the figures of four animals from the Musicians of Bremen’s story: the donkey, the dog, the cat, and the rooster. This statue is the exact replica of the statue in the city hall of Bremen.
Black Magic Bar
Riga Black balsam is the famous national brand name. The dark and astringent liqueur made of 24 herbs remains unchanged for 250 years. The only venue in Riga where the greatest recipe, combined with magical souvenirs and chocolate products, can be found is Black Magic Bar.