The Latvian capital of Riga has always been something of an important capital in the Baltic region, partly because of its big-city atmosphere which can be rather difficult to find in other parts of the region.
Set on a very flat plain and divided just by the Daugava River, the capital of Latvia mixes in funky and vibrant to contrast the quaintness of Tallinn and Vilnius. Its architecture is most Art-Nouveau and all around impressive and the historic quarter and the large parks will basically trap those visiting here for much longer than they planned on staying in the first place.
This metropolis – for the region – has managed to successfully blend its steeples, turrets and historic buildings with a vibrant nightlife and a very active and thriving restaurant scene. And this is just a small part of it, you will find it very hard to leave once you’re settled into a candlelit bar or you’re strolling around the cobbled streets.
Riga has a very strong charm thanks to its lavish beauty, elegance and the fact that it manages to balance the old and the new.
What’s further interesting about Riga is that less than half its inhabitants are actually ethnic Latvians, Russians actually accounting for 43.7% of the population. But despite this ethnic harmony prevails in the city with the language being talked in the street being a very natural blend of Russian and Latvian.
The place is developing at a very rapid pace, so fast that UNESCO has warned the authorities here that they might withdraw its protected status of the Old Town if more glass hotels and business centres pop up.
What was once dubbed as the “Paris of the East” is in danger of losing some of its charm due to this rapid development.