Riga, Latvia

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The propeller looks as though it might be on fire as the setting sun is reflected in it’s blade

To save money, within Europe we were using budget airlines.  Between Finland and Germany we used Baltic Air which had a stop over in Riga.

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The City of Riga is located on the south coast of the Gulf of Riga, on the mouth of the Daugava River

 Since we had never seen the city, we booked the flight so that we would arrive late in the evening, spend the night and then catch a mid afternoon flight out the next day. Our plan worked well.  We stayed in a small hotel at the airport and rode into town the following morning  on a local bus.

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Livu Square

The Old Medieval Town of Riga, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site,  was far more beautiful than we had expected.  During the 1600 it was under Swedish rule and at one point overshadowed Stockholm.  One can clearly see the Swedish influence in the architecture.

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In the first square we entered, we found this bizarre statue and people vying to stroke the various animals.  We had no idea what it was but I found the story…….

The Musicians of Bremen

“In the Brothers Grimm fairytale, The Bremen Town Musicians, the musicians, a donkey, a dog, a cat and a cockerel, all past their prime and rejected by their owners, set out to make a new life for themselves as musicians in Bremen, Germany. They never made it to Bremen.

En-route, and in need of sustenance and rest, they came across a cottage. Looking inside they saw a table laid out with a feast but, alas, the cottage was occupied by robbers. Intent on scaring the robbers away and claiming the cottage the musicians stood on each others shoulders, looked in and in unison created such a commotion that the robbers were scared and fled the cottage. Later that evening the robbers returned but were once again scarred off, this time for good.

This sculpture, created in Bremen by artist Krista Baumgaertel, is a copy of a similar one in that city. It is as much a political statement inspired by Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika as the recreation of a scene from a fairy tale and was a gift from the City of Bremen to the City of Riga in 1990. Bremen is a twin city of Riga and the former home of Bishop Albert who is credited with founding Riga in 1201.

Rather than peering through a cottage window at a feast laden table, the musicians can alternatively be seen as peering through the Iron Curtain on a world as unfamiliar to them as the scene in the fairy tale – hence the look of shock or is it wonderment or anticipation on their faces.

Things had been stirring since the mid 1980s and on 4th May 1990 the Latvian Supreme Council adopted a declaration restoring independence to the country. On 9 September 1991, the Soviet Union recognized the independence of the Baltics, including Latvia.

Today the Bremen Town Musicians sculpture is very popular with tourists, many of whom come intent on rubbing the noses of each of the musicians for the luck it is purported to bring. ”

By ‘wabat’ 2.22.16

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Besides the statue the square was bustling with handicraft stalls and musicians.

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The Brotherhood of Blackheads building

Originally built in 1334 it was destroyed by a bomb during the 2nd WW.  In 1999 it was rebuilt and it is now the temporary residence of the Latvian President.

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The steeple of St Peters could be seen from many different parts of the city.

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We wandered around with a map, trying to see the main sites.

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Riga is also known for the number of Art Nouveau buildings

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The Cat Building

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The Town Halldsc_4512

The white building is one of the oldest residences dating back to the 15th Century.

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The Riga Castle

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Jacob’s Barracks are now shops, cafes and art galleries.

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Going through the Swedish Gate from the Barracks to the Old City.

We just had time to get something to eat before catching the bus back to the airport.

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Obviously others think the Old City is a great photographic location!

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We returned to this quaint little restaurant “1221” and sat outside for a lite bite to eat.

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I had the cold beetroot soup.  Delicious.

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Next : Bavaria

 

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