Old City Riga (Vecriga)0
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- 4.5Food Scene
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.
More Best Things To Do in Riga
#0 Freedom Monument and the Central District
Latvia's Lady Liberty stands atop a stone pillar in a downtown Riga plaza, holding three gilded stars above her head to remind onlookers of the country's hard-fought unity and freedom. Built in the 1935, it represented the union of Latvia's three original districts -- Vidzeme, Latgale and Kurzeme-Courland. Under Soviet occupation, the pillar came to represent Mother Russia uniting Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. In present day, travelers describe this monument as decidedly somber, but credit how it exudes Latvian perseverance through its troubled past.
The best evidence of progress might actually be the bustling Central District that surrounds the monument. Several embassies, the University of Latvia, the National Opera House, a park, tons of quaint cafés, and busy restaurants now call the neighborhood home. And the park around the monument (specifically the Laima Clock) is a popular meeting place for locals. Swing by yourself for a little people watching.
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