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main destination guide riga, latvia

RIGA, LATVIA
    We are glad to invite you to the capital of the Republic of Latvia. Due to most rapidly developing economics of the region during last 10 years, Riga has emerged into a cosmopolitan capital. Gleaming renovated buildings and huge business centers create a modern megapolis look. But city is still cozy and homelike with narrow and twisted streets of the Medieval Old Town and the new bars and cafes that seem to be opening everywhere. It's not surprising that Riga has become famous as the 'Paris of the North'. The city is well known for its architectural and cultural values and developed infrastructure. A lot of cultural events are happening in its theaters, concert halls, art-galleries and museums. And it's also the Latvia's largest center of education and science. This is confirmed by a large number of international exhibitions, scientific conferences and seminars that take place in Riga every year.

    Riga is already the de facto Baltic business capital and one of the main economic centers of the region. The city's cross-roads location between Western Europe and huge Eastern markets has always been one of Riga's attractions for business activities. When in the 14-15th centuries Riga became one of the most important trade centers of the Hanseatic League, the city was granted special rights to transport goods along the Daugava further to the East. Nowadays, Riga is also an important transport junction. The main elements that make this city a transit center are the harbor of Riga, Riga international airport and developed railway and road networks. The historically developed transportation infrastructure has facilitated Riga's evolution as the major industrial and business center in the Baltic region.

    The focus of tourist attention is firmly on the Old Town, which comes down to the banks of the Daugava River like a maze of twisted cobble streets, beautiful buildings, churches and impressive squares. Across Bastekalns Park lies the New Town, the commercial and business heart of the city, with its broad avenues and grid-like layout. And further down the river the city's port is located.

    The Baltic Sea is just over 12km (seven miles) away but Riga's weather is not as harsh as many people imagine. Spring and summer days are often blessed with balmy daytime temperatures and long hours of daylight. When the sun shines, the city's numerous parks fill up, tables spill out of cafes and citizens laze along the city canals in rowing boats. And this gives more Mediterranean than eastern European look to this beautiful city.


    The Latvian capital is an amazing place for tourism, vacations and for business visits as well.

 

HISTORY OF RIGA

    In the Late Iron Age the lower reaches of the Daugava River were rather densely populated by Baltic tribes. Owing to the favorable geographical position - a convenient natural port on the Riga River bank and at the trade crossroads - the settlement of Riga in the 12th century became an economic center of the area. According to the chronicles, the monk Meinhard built a monastery there in the year of 1190. German merchants established a community in Riga in 1158. Bishop Albert of Livonia transferred his seat there in 1201 and founded the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, or Livonian Knights order. This was a German military religious order whose mission was to spread Christianity over the Baltic region. The knights also established a trading station in Riga.

    In the 13th century, Riga becomes not only the Bishop's residence (the Archbishop's residence since 1255), but also an important trade centre - the biggest Hanseatic town in Eastern Baltics with the corresponding economic and social structure. However, the interaction of the local peoples (ancient Latvians, Livs) and the western and eastern cultures gave rise to a special cultural environment. While belonging to the domain of the Livonian Knights, Riga maintained a semi-independent existence under its archbishops and German merchants, and controlled a large part of Livonia.

    Riga's acceptance of the Reformation in 1522 definitively ended the power of the archbishops in the city. After the dissolution of the Livonian Order in 1561, Riga was briefly independent and then passed (1581) to Poland, despite attempts of Russian Tsar Ivan IV to seize it. Polish efforts to reintroduce Catholicism made the capture by Sweden in 1621 a welcome event for the Protestant citizens. The Swedes granted self-government to the city.

    The rest of Swedish Livonia was captured by Russian Emperor Peter the Great during the Northern War. In the 17th century, Riga's commercial importance declined a little bit. It revived in the 18th century and particularly with the construction of the railroads in the 19th century. The city became second only to St. Petersburg as Russia's leading port and was the center of Europe's timber trade.

    A leading Russian industrial center from the second half of the 19th century, Riga had the third largest number of industrial workers (after Moscow and St. Petersburg) by the 1890s. The city was a stronghold of the Russian Social Democratic party and played an important role in the Revolution of 1905. German troops occupied Riga in 1917. After World War I, the independence of Latvia was proclaimed in Riga, which became the new country's capital.

    When Latvia was incorporated into the USSR in 1940, Riga was made the capital of the Latvian SSR. During Second World War the city was occupied by the German nazi troops, from whom it was retaken by the Soviet army. Riga again became the capital of independent Latvia in September of 1991.

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