Historic Centre of Riga, Latvia – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

There are so many reasons to love Riga, and every place I visited within the city just added to my “Love List”. The restaurant scene, Bastejklana Park, the Art Nouveau neighborhoods, the markets, the city’s vibe, and its historic centre- just to name a few.

Hello from Riga!

‘Old Town’ in Riga is a charmer, and is the historical centre of the city. It is a vibrant part of Riga that is brimming with centuries of old world magic. There are many little neighborhoods filled with narrow medieval stone streets, that are lined with buildings that span 800 years.

The Historical Centre of Riga was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 due to its role in cultural, social, scientific history, as well as the preserved medieval town and saturation of Art Nouveau architecture.

Riga can be traced back to the Viking age (793-1066 AD), when it was trading route along the Daugava River at the mouth of the Baltic Sea. It had been a great trading town and sea port, which led it to become a member of the Hanseatic League in 1282. Becoming part of this strong commercial and merchant guild provided Riga with early economic strength and political stability, this strong foundation helped endure the city’s growth until modern times.


House of of the Blackheads

The House of Blackheads is one of Riga’s most beloved buildings, and popular sites. The original building was built in the early 14th-century as a place for the Brotherhood of Blackheads, an association for shipowners, unwed merchants, and foreigners in Riga. Over the centuries, more detailed work had been added including the Mannerist ornamentation in the early 17th century.

The current structure of the House of the Blackheads was rebuilt late last century from 1996 until 1999. The original building was destroyed by German bombs in 1941, then the remains were demolished by the Soviets seven years later. The reconstructed House of the Blackheads was officially opened on December 9, 1999; with partial funds donated by those who participated in an event “I build the House of Black Heads”. This fundraiser allowed people to donate 5 lats (approx $10) and symbolically contribute to a brick in the wall, there were more than 5,000 participants.

Fun Fact: The House of Blackheads was the site of the first decorated Christmas tree in 1510.


Old Town – Historic City Centre

Riga’s historic city centre encompasses centuries of different architectural styles from medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Gothic, neoclassical, and Art Nouveau. Walking the different neighborhoods of Old Town is an excellent way to get acquainted with this magnificent city.

While I was in Riga I took a free walking tour (tip at the end), and it was a great way to gather facts about the city, as well as to get my bearings. If you are interested in this walking tour, please visit – Free Riga Tour


Art Nouveau Neighborhoods

Riga has the greatest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture in the world, as one third of all its buildings were built in this style. These buildings were constructed during a period Latvia’s rapid economic growth. Most of the Art Nouveau architecture was built in multi-story buildings and apartments, which made the details of design grander in scale. This style flourished in Riga since the city wanted to express its individuality, and a more thoughtful design than what dominated the 19th-century.

Art Nouveau Building

If you are interested in Art Nouveau and architecture, traveling to Riga will be an enlightening experience. I recommend taking a walking tour with an experience guide. I had taken a 2.5 hour free walking tour (tip at the end) of the Art Nouveau neighborhoods, and it was excellent. For tour information, please visit- Riga Art Nouveau Free Tour

⭐ Riga Art Nouveau Blog – Riga’s Astounding Art Nouveau Scene.


Bastejklana Park

There is so much to love about Riga, and spending as much time as possible in this enchanting city is a must. I visited Riga during the summertime in June, when the weather was at its best. The sun was shining, the temperature was quite warm, and everything was in bloom at Bastejkalns Park.

I had spent several lovely afternoons in Bastejkalns Park, but there was one day that I decided to take a canal cruise along the winding Pilsetas Canal, that led out into the Duagava River.

Daugava River

This city park is full of fun surprises besides the canal cruise and the Daugava River, although that would be my top pick. The canal boat sightseeing cruise, is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend an hour here. There was much to see along the canal banks, and it gave great perspective of the park. Best of all, the canal ride was relaxing.

⭐ For more information – Riga’s Bastejkalna Park & Canal Cruise | Discovering Latvia

Riga Shopping

If you are looking for unique artisan crafted souvenirs, I recommend Egle Craft Market in Old Town. I had purchased several artisan made pieces of jewelry, and cute linen items from this art & craft market. There is a great variety of stalls selling knitwear, amber, home décor, and other items from new designers and craft masters.

Egle Market

Egle Market is open everyday but hours do differ depending on the season:

  • Autumn/ Winter – 10:00 – 17:00
  • Spring/ Summer – 10:00 – 19:00


Riga is truly the jewel city of the Baltics, it is rich and colorful with centuries of history. I enjoyed exploring the city and would love to re-visit, just to get a better taste of the dining scene here. If you have not been to Riga or had not considered it, I strongly recommend that you do so- it is quite a an impressive city!

-Photo Gallery-

St. Peter’s Church
St. Gertrude Church
Building Ruins
Neo-Classical Buildings
Swedish Gate

Outdoor Café


Every hundred feet, the world changes…

– Roberto Balano
Yours Truly in Riga, Latvia

🌎 Thank you for visiting my website and NEVER STOP EXPLORING!

📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre

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