Freeport of Riga
Cruising and Travel

The City of Riga contains several districts. The most popular area for travelers is the Old Town, Doma Cathedral with its world-famous organ, and the nightlife of the Vecriga district. The city center retains German style architecture, while the suburbs tend to reflect the Soviet era of grey block apartments buildings. For information on the attractions in the Freeport of Riga, please visit the city's tourism website.

The climate in the Freeport of Riga is mixed maritime and humid continental. Summers are warm and humid, and winters are cold with up to 80 days of snow cover. In the autumn, the sea brings frequent rain and fog. Temperatures range from an average high of 22 °C (71 °F) in July to an average low of -8 °C (18 °F) in January.

Visitors to the Freeport of Riga will want to visit Old Riga. From the 13th Century, Old Riga was a cultural, financial, and economic center for the region. It was a major center for the Hanseatic League as well, and Old Riga reflects its centuries of prosperity. Conquered many times by foreign powers, the Freeport of Riga was never a purely Latvian city. Before the 20th Century, ethnic German dominated the population. Since the 20th Century, ethnic Russians prevail. The city also contains ethnic populations of Poles, Lithuanians, and other cultural groups that have given Old Riga a unique and rich architectural heritage. Riga Castle is the most famous of the treasures from the Middle Ages. The Dome Church may be the biggest church in Northern Europe. Five different denominations established churches in Old Riga that are still in good condition. Although many of the oldest structures were destroyed by wars or fires, UNESCO made Old Riga a World Heritage Site because the medieval city center contains perhaps the best collection of art nouveau (Jugendstil) buildings in Europe and outstanding 19th Century wood architecture.

The 14th Century Riga Castle sits regally on the banks of the River Daugava. Rebuilt in both 1497 and 1515, the Swedes added annexes in the middle 17th Century, and the fortress was continually modified and reconstructed from the 17th to 19th Centuries. In 1938, the Latvian government decided that the castle would be its residence. Today, it is the official residence of the President as well as the location for several museums. The President's apartments occupy much of the 18th and 19th Century era property. Inside

Riga Castle is the National History Museum of Latvia with 15 rooms of art, clothing, and furnishings from Latvia's history. Rooms of medieval and gothic art are complemented by large collections of Latvian costumes and jewelry. The National History Museum of Latvia in the Freeport of Riga is a rare undiscovered gem for tourists.

Also in Riga Castle is the Latvian Museum of Foreign Art, the biggest collection of foreign artwork in the country. The collection includes ancient art from Egypt, India, Rome, Greece, and the Middle East as well as more recent works from Western Europe.

The Rainis Museum of Literature and Art History is located in the Riga castle as well. Visitors can learn about Latvian literature from its roots until 1940 as well as current events in literature. The collections also address the history of theater, music, and painting in Latvia.

About 50 kilometers north of the Freeport of Riga is Gauja National Park, the largest national park in the country. Covering over 900 square kilometers along the Gauja River valley, it is also the oldest national park in Latvia. Called the "Switzerland of Latvia," the park is well-known for its 90-meter-high sandstone cliffs and the Turaida Castle. The towns of Cesis, Sigulda, and Ligatne are within the park's boundaries. Popular with tourists since the 19th Century, there are many lakes in the park, and almost half of its area is forest. The southwest portion is popular with residents of the Freeport of Riga, and the northeastern portions are rigorously protected.

Travelers who want to visit the Freeport of Riga by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.

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