The historic centre of Riga is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Riga Historic Centre consists out of numerous high quality medieval and Art Noveau architecture, and unparalleled 19th century wooden buildings. Riga is mostly known for being the capital of Art Nouveau architecture. More than one-third of the buildings in downtown Riga are in Art Nouveau style. This style dominated the city at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Old Town or Vecrīga is the oldest part of the city and consists out of Kafkaesque medieval streets. It attracts visitors from all over the world with its stunning architectural monuments. Main landmarks include the Dome Cathedral, St. Peter’s Church, the Swedish Gates, Riga Castle, the Powder Tower, and many more.
A visit to the Old Town can begin at the Town Hall Square or Ratslaukums, located at the end of Kalku Street. The Museum of Occupations, the rebuilt Town Hall, and the stunning House of Blackheads surround this square.
Climb up the tower of St. Peter’s to enjoy a spectacular view of the city center. From there it’s a short walk to the Dome Cathedral and the square which surrounds it. The square is surrounded by some of the best cafes and restaurants in the city. If you go further left you will pass the historic Swedish Gate and remains of Riga’s original city wall, as well as impressive medieval architecture among the Old Town’s cobbled streets. On the bank of the Daugava River, close to the Powder Tower and Museum of War, stands the re-built Riga Castle.
If you go further towards the Central District from the Old Town, you will likely pass the always-busy Liv Square or Livu laukums. In winter there is an ice skating rink in the middle of the square. Bordering the Bastejkains Park is the beautifully restored Riga Opera House. If you go further you will see the Freedom Monument on Brivibas Boulevard, which the main street of central Riga in the Central District. Main attractions in the Central District are Russian Orthodox Nativity of Christ Cathedral, the National Art Museum, Freedom Monument, Elizabetes Street which is one of the main streets of Riga’s Art Nouveau District, and the Central Market.
Main squares located in Riga City Centre, Latvia
Town Hall Square or Ratslaukums — pituresque square in downtown Riga dominated by the neoclassical Town Hall and House of Blackheads. There is plenty to see and do around the town square and a great place to find a hotel or bed and breakfast.
Cathedral Square or Doma laukums — cobbled square in front of St. Mary’s Cathedral (Doma Cathedral), surrounded by hotels, cafés and restaurants. It’s a popular meeting point for locals and tourists.
Livu Square or Livu laukums — Old Town square surrounded by nice buildings.
Castle Square or Pils laukums — site of Riga Castle. The castle began life as the headquarters of the Livonian Order, and now serves as the official residence of the Latvian president and also accommodates three museums.