Panoramic view of Riga city with the Daugava River cutting the city into two. This picture was taken from the top of St Peter's Church.
Visiting Riga in LatviaThis article and photos have been contributed by Keith Paterson, MBE*
(Updated on 4 August 2015)
Riga, the capital of Latvia, really amazed us for, far from being a threadbare Russian annex it has become a colourful modern city full of parks, statues and magnificent architecture.
Latvia has always been a lively trading country on the Baltic. It became prosperous when it was part of the Hanseatic League (something like the EU without the squabbles) from 1300 right up until the mid 1800's. They have done so much since the Russians left. They have come through their own austerity and are now back on track so it is understandable that they are now voting solidly against giving Greece more money. Besides, their wages and pensions are much lower than those in Greece (less than half of the Greek pension).
Riga, which stands on the broad Daugava River, really is a very attractive little city. It has its own seaside playground at nearby Jurmala, which is still a favourite with well-heeled Russians today.
After the Gorbachov Glasnost period Latvia became increasingly independent from 1989 and a few years later established its own parliament and asked the high proportion of Russians to choose between becoming Latvian ... or leave.
The Latvian language became the main one and a museum is dedicated to the "Occupation". It privatised industry and the collective farms, returning them to their owners or compensating them. In 1994 Latvia became part of the EEC and has a strong, expanding economy. As crossroads between Russia and the West it is in a fortunate position.
Riga in photos
Day trip to Jurmala
You can easily get to Jurmala by train from Riga. The train ride to Majori, its most popular stop for tourists, takes about half an hour. The Jurmala resort is still popular with Russians. One rich dissident hit the headlines some years back when he disappeared from his dacha and hasn't been seen since!
Go to this page for full information on tourists' attractions in Jurmala as well as full details on how to get there by train or minibus. You will also find two other useful and informative links to Jurmala in the list below.
Statue of a turtle at Jurmala beach (left). A dacha, or country house, in Jurmala (right).
*Keith Paterson, of Newmarket, England is the webmaster of the very popular website for senior citizens called Silverhairs.
You can find Keith Paterson's other travelogues here.