The historical center of Riga, known as Old Town, is certainly charming and lovely when it comes to architecture. Once more this is one of those places that can take you back in time.
Being UNESCO Heritage Site, you can expect cobblestoned small streets that can take you to hidden beautiful buildings,. Big and stunning churches, architectural masterpieces, romantic hidden streets and parks, which I am sure I have to visit back in Summer, when the city goes live full of festivals and people out in the street.
The timeless charm in the old town of Riga offers not only great sights to take your instagram pictures but also a wide selection of activities. Apart from restaurants and cafés opting for going local, like Lido (lunch) and Double Coffee (breakfast and lunch). there are many terraces in the street so you can have your drinks in the sun (if lucky).
Buildings were mainly built by the guilds of artists and craftsmen, in different periods of history. So while walking you can find around 500 buildings from different architectural styles (Romanticism, Gothic, Baroque, Modernism...). One of the must visits is the Three Brothers, the oldest buildings in Old Town, and the Powder Tower.
Of course the churches are the stars of archictecture in old towns. Since Latvia suffered many occupations and different religious and regimes, this has left a mark on its landscape. There are five religious denominations which now have their own church in this city. The most known ones are Dome Cathedral, St Peter's Church, and St Jacob's Church.
Riga's Old Town was recognized as a national protected area in 1967, and became a planning landmark in 1987. Its historical center was included in the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997 and was granted the European Heritage Label in 2007.
A bit of history:
The city was founded in 1201 and developed as a trade city over the centuries. In 1621 Riga became part of the Kingdom of Sweeden since it was invaded by the Russians in 1710. Latvia declared its independence in 1918 but was later occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. Not only Sweedish and Russian occupations but also German (Nazi) ones from 1941 to 1944. Germans and Russians had Latvia as a strategic area and battle field. Latvia gained again its independence in 1991.