Museum of the Occupation of Latvia0
This unique museum portrays Latvian life under Nazi and then Soviet occupation through a variety of ways -- a replica of a Siberian home, an actor dressed in military garb, historical documents and other exhibitions. One recent Riga-Life user describes the place as "a fascinating, but horrifying museum. It made me realize how pervasive the whole system of oppression was" in Latvia, and he is not alone. The museum is geared toward both international tourists and Latvians, who may have a more intense emotional response to the mournful collection.
One thing's for certain: the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia has a distinctive design. You can't miss this "evil Lego Brick dropped by a giant," as a TripAdvisor user calls it, in the center of Old City Riga. From October to April, you can visit anytime from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays through Sundays. In summer, the hours extend to 6 p.m. and include Mondays. Admission is free but donations are encouraged. Also, you can rent an English audio guide or take an English-speaking guided tour for 2 LVL (about $4 USD). For more information, check out the museum's website.
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#0 Old City Riga (Vecriga)
It's hard to believe that most of what you're seeing when walking the cobblestone streets of Old City Riga is relatively new. Much of this historic urban center was destroyed during 20th-century wars; since then, the city has recovered and rebuilt some of its oldest structures. Cars are not allowed, so you can leisurely stroll the narrow avenues and grand squares much like 19th-century Latvians did. Be sure to sample some of the traditional Latvian fare -- restaurants here are renowned for their quality, plus they're affordable compared to other major European cities. Plus, other top things to do, like St. Peter's Church and the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia pepper this area, so you are bound to spend some time enjoying the sights.
There are tours -- including a free one -- that will narrate the buildings' historical significance, but as one TripAdvisor user suggests, the best way to experience the neighborhood is to pick up a map “from the tourist information site in the center and walk through the old town" on your own. While exploring, look out for the Town Hall Square (Ratslaukums) with the impressive House of Blackheads andandand the Swedish Gate along the remains of the ancient city walls.
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