Riga is situated on the Baltic Sea coast on the mouth of the river Daugava. Riga was founded 1201 and is the largest city in the Baltic States, with a population of 730,000. The Historic Centre of Riga has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city is particularly notable for its extensive Jugendstil (German Art Nouveau) architecture, which UNESCO considers to be unparalleled anywhere in the world.
Today Riga is a city enjoying rapid change. Many of the older buildings in the city are being renovated and old meets new in many parts of the city. There are lots of opportunities to explore the city and its surroundings whilst studying here and for those who love culture and nature, everything is within reach; the sea with its beautiful beaches, forests, rapids, castles and other cultural sites. Riga is an all-year-round destination. In the summer you can enjoy the long days and light nights and during the autumn and winter months you will find it very comfortable to sink into a cosy chair in one of the city´s many cafés.
Orientation and history
Historically Riga has been one of the most important trade cities in the Baltics. Ever since Riga was founded the surrounding states and peoples - Germans, Lithuanians, Poles, Swedes and Russians – have been at war with each other (and sometimes with the Latvians) in order to dominate the area around Riga. Whoever has been in control of Riga has been able to control transport on the river Daugava to and from the Russian territory. Riga is home to the largest university and educational centre among the Baltic States. Due to its geographic location Riga lies at the heart of the Baltic States with a rich culture life. The proximity to the sea and to the resort Jurmala, with its lovely beaches, means that the city, especially in the summer, is packed with tourists.
Riga has something to offer each and everyone. The Historic Centre (the old city) of Riga is beautiful with an amazing architecture, narrow alleys and lots of parks. The mile wide beaches near Riga and Jurmala are impressive. Jurmala has many beautiful, multi-colored villas with amazing gardens from the turn of the century, which previously served as summer houses for the Soviet leaders. There are still plenty of opportunities to experience Russian culture in Riga - the Russian Drama theater, Orthodox churches and many Russian festivals - as well as many restaurants and cafés.
Foundation: 1201 by Bishop Albert, proclaimed Bishop of Livonia
Climate: Between maritime and humid continental
GMT Offset: GMT +2 hours
To do and see: Cultural life, Riga: The Old and The new, Rundale, Sigulda, Jurmala,
Russian in Riga
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