This morning, your Riga guide will meet you in the lobby for a walking tour of Old Town Riga.
You will visit the 13th century St. Peter’s Church, which was damaged by fire during World War II and later (ironically) rebuilt by the Soviets. A good place to start any tour is atop the church’s spire, where you can see the whole of Riga laid out before you. This is the perfect way to get your bearings before you actually wander down the cobble-stoned streets. From here you may see the exterior of the Dome Cathedral one of the largest and most distinctive houses of worship in the region.
Later today, you will view the famous House of Cats with cat sculptures perched on the top of its roof and hear about the intrigue surrounding these feline figures. Just across the street, you will also see the former headquarters of the Great Guild, now the home of the Riga Philharmonic. Other good examples of medieval dwellings are in this neighborhood, including the Three Brothers building, dating to the 15th century when Riga was part of the Hanseatic League. It is one of the oldest stone buildings in Latvia and now houses the city’s architecture museum.
Continuing your tour of the Old Town, you will see the Riga Castle (Rigas pils), which was originally erected on the bank of the Daugava River in the 1330s but has been reconstructed and augmented many times since. In 1938, the Latvian government declared the castle its official residence and today it houses the residence of the President, as well as two museums - the Museum of Latvian History and the Museum of Foreign Art.
In the afternoon, we suggest visiting Riga’s Central District. Not far away from the Old Town, you can stop by the Freedom Monument - a memorial honoring the soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence from 1918-1920.
Later you will visit the Latvian National Art Museum, which houses more than 52,000 works of art reflecting the development of the arts in Latvia from the middle of the 18th century until the present. It also features Russian art from the 16th to the first half of the 20th century.
The area around Elizabetes and Alberta Streets is known as Riga’s Art Nouveau (or Jugendstil) District, which features impressive examples of the style. In total, there are some 800 Art Nouveau buildings in Riga, many of which were designed and built by Latvian architects including Mikhail Eisenstein (the father of the famous director Sergei Eisenstein).