The History of Riga Speaks Through the Streets

Freedom Street, Riga Latvia

Before visiting Latvia, I had little understanding of their turbulent history. I walked the streets when I arrived and found beauty around every corner. The varied architecture, stunning skyline, and mix between modern and old made we want to look deeper into the roots that created such a diverse setting. I asked tour guides and locals about the diversity and visited The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia to walk into Riga’s history and down the streets of the past. 

In terms of war, Riga has always been involved through other powers. And Freedom Street, located in the city center of Riga, is like a timeline in Latvia’s war history. When a ruling power changes, the first thing that power does is to change the names of streets. Freedom Street doesn’t just tell the story of a street; it tells the story of Latvia and gives a deeper understanding of their history and culture.

Freedom Street, Riga Latvia

Freedom Street has experienced several wars – First World War, Second World War, Cold War, Singing Revolution, and August 1991 Putsch. Many military forces have entered and left Riga via this street. During Latvia’s first period of independence it was known as Brivibas or Freedom’s Street then it became Hitler’s Strasse, then Lenin’s Street and then, one hopes that this time for good, Freedom Street, once again. Without explaining an entire century of history, the names of Freedom Street are a reflection of the city’s turbulent history.

Art Nouveau Region, Riga, Latvia

Old Town, Riga, Latvia

Old Town, Riga, Latvia

Orthodox Church, Riga, Latvia Buildings in Riga, Latvia

The buildings around Riga tell a similar story to Freedom Street and, while build on war and turbulence, create a distinct beauty that draws you in and demands your attention.

31 thoughts on “The History of Riga Speaks Through the Streets

  1. What beautiful pictures. They entice me into wanting to find out more about the country and perhaps visiting it one day.

    All of Europe has wonderful rich history, if only you take the time to look below the surface.


  2. I love Riga!! One of my favourite cities!! 🙂 There’s so much history there on so many levels! Did you try the Riga Black Balsam? xxx


  3. My significant other is Latvian so I made my first visit to Riga in September last year…so thrilled to see the last few posts. It is a wonderful gem of a small European city (and I loved your pix of the market as we spent many hours there…partly because we kept running into cousins/friends/ etc.). Would definitely recommend attending the Opera if you are there!


  4. Impressive photos and interesting post. I like the clouds behind the building in the 5th photo. I think it must have taken a considerable amount of endurance to survive all the changes in power.


  5. I love your blog. How can you afford to take so many trips, especially when raising a small child? I have a one year old daughter and since she was born, I have not taken ANY trips to work on my photography. We struggle just to pay the bills and my artwork has taken a backseat. I wouldn’t trade my daughter for anything in the world but even with my husband and I working full time, we haven’t been able to afford a vacation since our honeymoon three years ago. What is your secret?!


  6. Unfortunately, much of Eastern Europe has a similar troubled history, something I discovered after spending a year in Warsaw. I’m glad there’s people out there that not only visit Latvia and the Baltics, but take the time to appreciate their history!


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