Discover Baltic beauty in Riga

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If you’re an avid-reader of my blog you’ll know how much I love exploring ex-Soviet states. Latvia has been on my list for quite a while, these days unfortunately it’s mostly known as a cheap destination for a stag party.

Thankfully that wasn’t the reason I visited, so what did I discover on my Latvian tour?

Riga

I purposely didn’t research this trip beforehand; therefore I arrived waiting to be either surprised or disappointed. Thankfully for me, it wasn’t the latter.

The incredibly beautiful Pietavas Iela street in Riga's Old Town

The incredibly beautiful Pietavas Iela street in Riga’s Old Town

Riga became a member of the European Union in 2004 and replaced it’s own currency the Lat with the Euro in early 2014. These changes have brought huge economic benefits for the small Baltic state, however wealth is desperately needed to help the Government restore some of the crumbling capital city.

I’d ditched the guidebook and was using my iPhone just to help me figure out where I was using Google Maps. A highly recommended thing to do is if you don’t want to use mobile data whilst abroad make sure you preload the map before leaving your hotel, zooming in around areas you know you’ll be walking around and this way you can still follow the map.

One of the most romantic things to do is take a walk along the City Canal, day or night.

One of the most romantic things to do is take a walk along the City Canal, day or night.

Probably the most visited part of Riga is of course the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Old Town, a relatively unmodernised centre for a capital city in Europe.

This is perfect for me, I genuinely felt like I’d stepped back in time.

If like me you love visiting the highest viewing point of any city then you’ll absolutely love seeing Riga’s.

You’ll have to shell out €9 to visit St Peter’s Church, so although rather expensive for Latvia, if you compare it to paying £30 to clamber up the Shard in London then it’s an absolute bargain. The Church dates back to approximately 1209 but has been destroyed by fire several times, the last reconstruction occurred after the second World War.

The River Daugava in Riga

The River Daugava in Riga

There's so much to discover in this small capital city

There’s so much to discover in this small capital city

For the best panoramic views head up to the top of St Peter's Church

For the best panoramic views head up to the top of St Peter’s Church

The Freedom Monument

The Freedom Monument

In 2014 Riga was chosen as the European Capital of Culture, although the country may not have a well-known landmark there’s definitely some fascinating history just waiting to be discovered.

One of these places must be the KGB Building. An incredible look back in time when anyone could be arrested and anyone could be found guilty.

The building itself holds some rather gruesome history, rather than me explain this I’ll let the photos do the talking and simply say that entry is only €5 and can be purchased via the Latvia Tourism Office in central Riga or booked online.

KGB Building is now thankfully Government protected after standing empty since 1998.

KGB Building is now thankfully Government protected after standing empty since 1998.

You did not want to end up a prisoner in "KGB Building" as you'd be subjected to torture, mental and physical abuse.

You did not want to end up a prisoner in “KGB Building” as you’d be subjected to torture, mental and physical abuse.

1980's style interrogation room, not changed in any way since the KGB left. Your every move would be watched through the darkened window.

1980’s style interrogation room, not changed in any way since the KGB left. Your every move would be watched through the darkened window.

The only part of the outside world the prisoner's saw was in this yard, they weren't allowed to speak and were guarded at all times. According to my guide prisoners would often hear Church bells from a nearby Church and often feel comforted.

The only part of the outside world the prisoner’s saw was in this yard, they weren’t allowed to speak and were guarded at all times. According to my guide prisoners would often hear Church bells from a nearby Church and often feel comforted.

One of the cells within the prison, you'll notice bunk beds. "Cell-agents" were active in the prison and would try to gain the confidence of the prisoner to uncover the truth

One of the cells within the prison, you’ll notice bunk beds. “Cell-agents” were active in the prison and would try to gain the confidence of the prisoner to uncover the truth

The bugging devices often used to listen in to people's every word

The bugging devices often used to listen in to people’s every word

You'll notice on the top floor window's there are bars, this is because these are interrogation rooms. They were installed after the first prisoner to be interrogated jumped out of the window!

You’ll notice on the top floor window’s there are bars, this is because these are interrogation rooms. They were installed after the first prisoner to be interrogated jumped out of the window!

Although this part of my visit would officially be classed as “Dark Tourism”, it’s a part of history which needs to be heard and discovered by adventurous traveller’s like me.

On a more lighter note, across the city you’ll find a huge number of bars and clubs who are eager to entice young travellers, or at the very least they’ll offer you some “young ladies”. Thankfully I declined on the fact it’d be the wrong sex I was interested in.

The worst thing about my trip…

…there wasn’t enough time to fit everything in!

Which can mean only one thing, I shall just have to go back and uncover more incredible hidden gems.

Visit Riga for yourself

I highly recommend a visit, to book your stay go to Booking.com and search for Riga.

Click here using this link!

Further Information

If you’d like to discover more photographs and information from this trip or any others please feel free to ask me any questions. You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.

6 thoughts on “Discover Baltic beauty in Riga

    • You must visit Chernobyl, it’s an incredible experience. Id recommend next year as it’ll be 30 years since the tragic accident.

      Also Riga really surprised me, I can’t wait to go back and explore more to Latvia 😊

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