I spent all morning walking around the old town of Riga with a free walking tour. Finally it was time though to explore Riga a bit more and get out of the centre. My first stop was the Central Market. The five halls form the biggest market in Europe. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site (as well as the old town of Riga). The five halls used to be Zeppelin hangars in a different location. Once the war ended they found a new home and purpose in Riga.
Further afield from the market you can find the Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum. The exhibition touches on the fate of the many Jews who ended up getting transported to Riga. In the outdoor section there is a wall with the names of 3000 killed Jews. Inside there is a room with lanterns. Each one representing one individual fate. The museum also has a small exhibition on the genocide of the Armenians. I was so happy that the sun was shining while I was visiting because this is chilling. Read up on the history of the Latvian Jews here and the Armenian genocide here.
From the museum it is only a stone’s throw to the Latvian Academy of Science. The tower reminded me of the Seven Sisters of Moscow. There is definitely a similarity there, don’t you think? The Science tower offers the best view over Riga and with finally blue sky and sunshine (almost at least) I could not withstand.
Latvia declared its independence from German and Russian occupation at the end of WWI. While I was in Riga there was an outdoor exhibition commemorating the independence and the resistance movement against the second Russian occupation after 1940.
The Freedom monument was erected in 1935 to celebrate the independence of 1918. The immense size of the monument and the square show importance of this historical moment. Also the monument’s artistic value saved it from demolition during the Soviet occupation.
Consequently it was wonderful to notice how proud people are of their nation. Because they had been occupied the longest period the Latvians are more than happy now.
So much beauty in this city and so much joie de vivre. This city certainly gets to you. What a great place to start my Latvian adventure. Your, Pollybert