A small, cosy country nestled between its neighbours Estonia and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea, Latvia is a country whose picturesque towns and ancient cities are set within a landscape of plains, lakes, forests and river valleys, and where fishing villages interrupt the dramatic coastline that is interspersed with white sandy beaches. The country has numerous manor houses, medieval castles, photogenic palaces and ruins, and Riga, the beautiful capital, is rich in history and culture, boasting the best concentration of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe.
Riga, the capital of Latvia, lies on the banks of the Daugava river not far from where the river flows into the Gulf of Riga. Riga is well known among the most fascinating towns in the Baltics. As an ancient Hanseatic town, it has always been a trade centre. The Old Town of Riga is probably one of the most attractive places to see in Latvia. It has unique architecture and a number of small, cosy restaurants and coffee bars. Many old houses have been preserved, and in some places one has the feeling of having travelled in time and returned to the previous centuries.
Riga is renowned for fantastic buildings in the style of Art Nouveau built at the beginning of the 20th century. It is justifiably claimed to be the capital of Art Nouveau in Europe. Riga is a magnificent surprise to a stranger. It is said that in the 1930s it was known as “The Little Paris of the North”.
Jurmala is a most popular Latvian seaside resort situated only 20 km from Riga. The natural curative features of this place had already been well known more than one hundred and fifty years ago. Nowadays boundless golden beaches, blue sea, salubrious air and the unique beauty of pine forests attract tourists from all over the world.
Jurmala is also a cozy European town composed of houses plunged into the parks and forests. Here you can come across striking examples of wooden architecture of the 19th and 20th century as well as modern cottages
Cesis – quintessentially Latvian town. Some 75 km north of Riga, it’s home to the 700-year-old St. John’s Church, burial place of many prominent German crusaders. There is also the 13th century Cesis Castle, as well as the famous Cesis brewery. It is also believed that Cesis is the birthplace of the Latvian flag, one of the world’s oldest. Legend has it that the king of the Letgal tribe was wounded here in battle in 1272. He was placed on a white flag which soon became stained with the warrior’s blood. However, a white stripe remained in the centre creating the foundation for Latvia’s current flag which is a field of maroon separated by a narrow white stripe in the middle.
One of the most picturesque towns in Latvia – Sigulda is located about 50 km from Riga in the Gauja River valley in the Gauja National Park and is known as the most popular tourist and leisure destination as well as a famous winter sports resort in Latvia. Reddish devon sandstone forms steep rocks and caves on both banks of the river. Because of this, since time immemorial Sigulda has been called the Switzerland of Vidzeme.
There is a bobsleigh track and downhill skiing routes. Sigulda is a place where one can experience a genuine whiff of the Middle Ages, a time of romantic legends, castles and heroic figures, visiting the ruins of the 13th cent. Crusader Castle and Turaida Castle, as well as the 19th cent. Kropotkin’s Palace.
Ventpils lies in northwestern Latvia on the shores of the Baltic Sea where the Vents River joins the sea. This charming city has developed into a major trading port and a travel destination for many foreign tourists. In Ventpils you can see the Castle of the Livonian Order and Ventpils Open-Air Museum of Maritime Fishing which expones fishermen houses, fishing boats and tools. The beautiful, clean beach and surrounding forests are perfect for relaxation.
Liepaja is the third largest city in Latvia, situated on the shores of the Baltic sea. The lighthouses of Liepaja are the first ones to welcome European sailors in Latvia. Liepaja has a unique cultural heritage of Swedish kings, German barons, Russian Tsars and Finnish Jeegers. For some time Liepaja has even been the Capital of Latvia. Liepaja attracts tourists with its beach and the sea, festivals and pubs, unique military heritage of Tsarist Russia and Soviet Union museum “Karosta” and the biggest historically not changed mechanic organ in the world.
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