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What's important: you can compare and book not only Riga hotels and resorts, but also villas and holiday cottages, inns and B&Bs (bed and breakfast), condo hotels and apartments, timeshare properties, guest houses and pensions, campsites (campgrounds), motels and hostels in Riga. If you're going to Riga save your money and time, don't pay for the services of the greedy travel agencies. Instead, book the best hotel in Riga online, buy the cheapest airline tickets to Riga, and rent a car in Riga right now, paying the lowest price! Besides, here you can buy the Riga related books, guidebooks, souvenirs and other goods.

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In order to book an accommodation in Riga enter the proper dates and do the hotel search. If needed, sort the found Riga hotels by price, star rating, property type, guest rating, hotel features, hotel theme or hotel chain. Then take a look at the found hotels on Riga map to estimate the distance from the main Riga attractions and sights. You can also read the guest reviews of Riga hotels and see their ratings.

When a hotel search in Riga is done, please select the room type, the included meals and the suitable booking conditions (for example, "Deluxe double room, Breakfast included, Non-Refundable"). Press the "View Deal" ("Book Now") button. Make your booking on a hotel booking website and get the hotel reservation voucher by email. That's it, a perfect hotel in Riga is waiting for you!

Hotels of Riga

A hotel in Riga is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Riga hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Riga are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Riga hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Riga hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Riga have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:

Upscale luxury hotels in Riga
An upscale full service hotel facility in Riga that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Riga hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.

Full service hotels in Riga
Full service Riga hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.

Historic inns and boutique hotels in Riga
Boutique hotels of Riga are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Riga boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Riga may be classified as luxury hotels.

Focused or select service hotels in Riga
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Riga travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Riga focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.

Economy and limited service hotels in Riga
Small to medium-sized Riga hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Riga traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Riga hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.

Guest houses and B&Bs in Riga
A bed and breakfast in Riga is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Riga bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Riga B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.

Hostels in Riga
Riga hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Riga hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.

Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Riga
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Riga hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Riga lack an on-site restaurant.

Timeshare and destination clubs in Riga
Riga timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Riga often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Riga on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.

Motels in Riga
A Riga motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Riga for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Riga motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.

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Travelling and vacation in Riga

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Riga
Rīga
City
From top, left to right: the Freedom Monument, the Riga City Council building, the House of the Blackheads, Līvu Square, and the Latvian National Opera
From top, left to right: the Freedom Monument, the Riga City Council building, the House of the Blackheads, Līvu Square, and the Latvian National Opera
Flag of Riga
Flag
Coat of arms of Riga
Coat of arms
Location of Riga within Latvia
Location of Riga within Latvia
Coordinates:  / 56.94889; 24.10639  / 56.94889; 24.10639
Country Latvia
Government
• Type City council
• Mayor Nils Ušakovs
Area(2002)
• City 324 km (125 sq mi)
• Water 48.50 km (18.73 sq mi) 15.8%
• Metro 10,133 km (3,912 sq mi)
Population (2017)
• City 639,630
• Density 2,000/km (5,100/sq mi)
• Metro 1,018,295 (Riga Planning Region)
• Metro density 101.4/km (263/sq mi)
• Demonym Rīdzinieki
Ethnicity(2016)
• Latvians 46.2%
• Russians 37.7%
• Belarusians 3.9%
• Ukrainians 3.5%
• Poles 1.8%
• Lithuanians 0.8%
• Romanies 0.1%
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
• Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Calling codes 66 and 67
GDP(nominal) 2012
- Total €12($15) billion
- Per capita €18,000($23,000)
Website www.riga.lv
Riga as seen on SPOT satellite imagery

Riga (/ˈrɡə/; Latvian: Rīga, pronounced [ˈriːɡa]) is the capital and the largest city of Latvia. With 639,630 inhabitants (2016), Riga is the largest city in the Baltic states and home to one third of Latvia's population. The city lies on the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the Daugava. Riga's territory covers 307.17 square kilometres (118.60 square miles) and lies between one and ten metres (3 feet 3 inches and 32 feet 10 inches) above sea level, on a flat and sandy plain.

Riga was founded in 1201 and is a former Hanseatic League member. Riga's historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture and 19th century wooden architecture. Riga was the European Capital of Culture during 2014, along with Umeå in Sweden. Riga hosted the 2006 NATO Summit, the Eurovision Song Contest 2003, the 2006 IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships and the 2013 World Women's Curling Championship. It is home to the European Union's office of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). Riga is served by Riga International Airport, the largest airport in the Baltic states.

Riga is a member of Eurocities, the Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC) and Union of Capitals of the European Union (UCEU).

Riga: Etymology

One theory about the origin of the name Riga is that it is a corrupted borrowing from the Liv ringa meaning loop, referring to the ancient natural harbour formed by the tributary loop of the Daugava River. The other is that Riga owes its name to this already-established role in commerce between East and West, as a borrowing of the Latvian rija, for threshing barn, the "j" becoming a "g" in German - notably, Riga is called Rie by English geographer Richard Hakluyt (1589), and German historian Dionysius Fabricius (1610) confirms the origin of Riga from rija. Another theory could be that Riga was named after Riege, the German name for the River Rīdzene, a tributary of the Daugava.

Riga: History

Historical affiliations

Terra Mariana (condominium of Archbishops of Riga and Livonian Order) 1201–1561
Imperial Free City 1561–1582
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth 1582–1629
Swedish Empire 1629–1721
Russian Empire 1721–1917
German Empire 1917–1918
Latvia Republic of Latvia 1918–1940
Soviet Union 1940–1941
Nazi Germany 1941–1944
Soviet UnionLatvian Soviet Socialist Republic Soviet Union 1944–1991
Latvia Republic of Latvia 1991–present

Right bank of the Daugava

Riga: Founding

The river Daugava has been a trade route since antiquity, part of the Vikings' Dvina-Dnieper navigation route to Byzantium. A sheltered natural harbour 15 km (9.3 mi) upriver from the mouth of the Daugava - the site of today's Riga - has been recorded, as Duna Urbs, as early as the 2nd century. It was settled by the Livs, an ancient Finnic tribe.

The building of the Brotherhood of Blackheads is one of the most iconic buildings of Old Riga (Vecrīga)

Riga began to develop as a centre of Viking trade during the early Middle Ages. Riga's inhabitants occupied themselves mainly with fishing, animal husbandry, and trading, later developing crafts (in bone, wood, amber, and iron).

The Livonian Chronicle of Henry testifies to Riga having long been a trading centre by the 12th century, referring to it as portus antiquus (ancient port), and describes dwellings and warehouses used to store mostly corn, flax, and hides. German traders began visiting Riga, establishing a nearby outpost in 1158.

Along with German traders also arrived the monk Meinhard of Segeberg to convert the Livonian pagans to Christianity. Catholic and Orthodox Christianity had already arrived in Latvia more than a century earlier, and many Latvians baptised. Meinhard settled among the Livs, building a castle and church at Ikšķile, upstream from Riga, and established his bishopric there. The Livs, however, continued to practice paganism and Meinhard died in Ikšķile in 1196, having failed his mission. In 1198, the Bishop Berthold arrived with a contingent of crusaders and commenced a campaign of forced Christianization. Berthold was killed soon afterwards and his forces defeated.

The Church mobilised to avenge. Pope Innocent III issued a bull declaring a crusade against the Livonians. Bishop Albert was proclaimed Bishop of Livonia by his uncle Hartwig of Uthlede, Prince-Archbishop of Bremen and Hamburg in 1199. Albert landed in Riga in 1200 with 23 ships and 500 Westphalian crusaders. In 1201, he transferred the seat of the Livonian bishopric from Ikšķile to Riga, extorting agreement to do so from the elders of Riga by force.

Riga: Under Bishop Albert

The year 1201 also marked the first arrival of German merchants in Novgorod, via the Dvina. To defend territory and trade, Albert established the Order of Livonian Brothers of the Sword in 1202, open to nobles and merchants.

Christianization of the Livs continued. In 1207, Albert started on fortification of the town. Emperor Philip invested Albert with Livonia as a fief and principality of the Holy Roman Empire. To promote a permanent military presence, territorial ownership was divided between the Church and the Order, with the Church taking Riga and two-thirds of all lands conquered and granting the Order a third. Until then, it had been customary for crusaders to serve for a year and then return home.

Albert had ensured Riga's commercial future by obtaining papal bulls which decreed that all German merchants had to carry on their Baltic trade through Riga. In 1211, Riga minted its first coinage, and Albert laid the cornerstone for the Riga Dom. Riga was not yet secure as an alliance of tribes failed to take Riga. In 1212, Albert led a campaign to compel Polotsk to grant German merchants free river passage. Polotsk conceded Kukenois (Koknese) and Jersika to Albert, also ending the Livs' tribute to Polotsk.

Riga's merchant citizenry chafed and sought greater autonomy from the Church. In 1221, they acquired the right to independently self-administer Riga and adopted a city constitution.

That same year Albert was compelled to recognise Danish rule over lands they had conquered in Estonia and Livonia. Albert had sought the aid of King Valdemar of Denmark to protect Riga and Livonian lands against Liv insurrection when reinforcements could not reach Riga. The Danes landed in Livonia, built a fortress at Reval (Tallinn) and set about conquering Estonian and Livonian lands. The Germans attempted, but failed, to assassinate Valdemar. Albert was able to reach an accommodation with them a year later, however and, in 1222, Valdemar returned all Livonian lands and possessions to Albert's control.

Albert's difficulties with Riga's citizenry continued; with papal intervention, a settlement was reached in 1225 whereby they no longer had to pay tax to the Bishop of Riga, and Riga's citizens acquired the right to elect their magistrates and town councillors. In 1226, Albert consecrated the Dom Cathedral, built St. James's Church, (now a cathedral) and founding a parochial school at the Church of St. George.

In 1227, Albert conquered Oesel and the city of Riga concluded a treaty with the Principality of Smolensk giving Polotsk to Riga.

Albert died in January 1229. He failed in his aspiration to be anointed archbishop but the German hegemony he established over the Baltic would last for seven centuries.

Riga in the 16th century

Riga: Hanseatic League

In 1282, Riga became a member of the Hanseatic League. The Hansa was instrumental in giving Riga economic and political stability, thus providing the city with a strong foundation which endured the political conflagrations that were to come, down to modern times.

Riga in 1650. The inscription reads: Prospect der Stadt Riga ums Jahr 1650 (View at the City of Riga in 1650). Drawing by Johann Christoph Brotze

Riga: Holy Roman Empire, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Swedish and Russian Empires

As the influence of the Hanseatic League waned, Riga became the object of foreign military, political, religious and economic aspirations. Riga accepted the Reformation in 1522, ending the power of the archbishops. In 1524, iconoclasts targeted a statue of the Virgin Mary in the Cathedral to make a statement against religious icons. It was accused of being a witch, and given a trial by water in the Daugava River. The statue floated, so it was denounced as a witch and burnt at Kubsberg. With the demise of the Livonian Order during the Livonian War, Riga for twenty years had the status of a Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire before it came under the influence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by the Treaty of Drohiczyn, which ended the war for Riga in 1581. In 1621, during the Polish–Swedish War (1621–1625), Riga and the outlying fortress of Daugavgriva came under the rule of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, who intervened in the Thirty Years' War not only for political and economic gain but also in favour of German Lutheran Protestantism. During the Russo-Swedish War (1656–1658), Riga withstood a siege by Russian forces.

Riga remained the largest city in Sweden until 1710, a period during which the city retained a great deal of autonomous self-government. In that year, in the course of the Great Northern War, Russia under Tsar Peter the Great besieged plague-stricken Riga. Along with the other Livonian towns and gentry, Riga capitulated to Russia, but largely retained their privileges. Riga was made the capital of the Governorate of Riga (later: Livonia). Sweden's northern dominance had ended, and Russia's emergence as the strongest Northern power was formalised through the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. Riga became an industrialised port city of the Russian empire, in which it remained until World War I. By 1900, Riga was the third largest city in Russia after Moscow and Saint Petersburg in terms of the number of industrial workers and number of theatres.

German troops entering Riga during World War I.

During these many centuries of war and changes of power in the Baltic, and despite demographic changes, the Baltic Germans in Riga had maintained a dominant position. By 1867, Riga's population was 42.9% German. Riga employed German as its official language of administration until the installation of Russian in 1891 as the official language in the Baltic provinces, as part of the policy of Russification of the non-Russian speaking territories of the Russian Empire, including Congress Poland, Finland and the Baltics, undertaken by Tsar Alexander III. More and more Latvians started moving to the city during the mid-19th century. The rise of a Latvian bourgeoisie made Riga a centre of the Latvian National Awakening with the founding of the Riga Latvian Association in 1868 and the organisation of the first national song festival in 1873. The nationalist movement of the Young Latvians was followed by the socialist New Current during the city's rapid industrialisation, culminating in the 1905 Revolution led by the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party.

Riga: World War I

High-ranking German officers and Kaiser Wilhelm II in Riga after its fall, 3 September 1917.

The 20th century brought World War I and the impact of the Russian Revolution of 1917 to Riga. In consequence of the battle of Jugla, the German army marched into Riga on 3 September 1917. On 3 March 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, giving the Baltic countries to Germany. Because of the Armistice with Germany of 11 November 1918, Germany had to renounce that treaty, as did Russia, leaving Latvia and the other Baltic States in a position to claim independence. Latvia, with Riga as its capital city, thus declared its independence on 18 November 1918. Between World War I and World War II (1918–1940), Riga and Latvia shifted their focus from Russia to the countries of Western Europe. The United Kingdom and Germany replaced Russia as Latvia's major trade partners. The majority of the Baltic Germans were resettled in late 1939, prior to the occupation of Estonia and Latvia by the Soviet Union in June 1940.

Riga: World War II

During World War II, Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union in June 1940 and then was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941–1944. The city's Jewish community was forced into the Riga Ghetto and a Nazi concentration camp was constructed in Kaiserwald. On 25 October 1941, the Nazis relocated all Jews from Riga and the vicinity to the ghetto. Most of Latvia's Jews (about 24,000) were killed on 30 November and 8 December 1941 in the Rumbula massacre. By the end of the war, the remaining Baltic Germans were expelled to Germany.

The Soviet Red Army re-entered Riga on 13 October 1944. In the following years the massive influx of labourers, administrators, military personnel, and their dependents from Russia and other Soviet republics started. Microdistricts of the large multi-storied housing blocks were built to house immigrant workers. By 1989, the percentage of Latvians in Riga had fallen to 36.5%.

Riga: 21st century

In 2004, the arrival of low-cost airlines resulted in cheaper flights from other European cities such as London and Berlin and consequently a substantial increase in numbers of tourists.

In November 2013, the roof of a supermarket collapsed, possibly as a result of the weight of materials used in the construction of a garden on the roof. At least 54 people were killed. The Latvian President Andris Berzins described the disaster as "a large scale murder of many defenceless people".

Riga was the European Capital of Culture in 2014. During the Latvia's Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2015 the 4th Eastern Partnership Summit took place in Riga.

Riga: Geography

Historic Centre of Riga
Rīga
The Old Town of Riga
The Old Town of Riga is one of many World Heritage Sites in Europe
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Location Latvia
Area 307 km (3.30×10 sq ft)
Criteria i, ii
Reference 852
Coordinates  / 56.9475; 24.1069
Inscription 1997 (21st Session)
Website www.riga.lv
Riga is located in Latvia
Riga
Location of Riga
[edit on Wikidata]

Riga: Administrative divisions

  • Central District (3 km or 1.2 sq mi)
  • Kurzeme District (79 km or 31 sq mi)
  • Zemgale Suburb (41 km or 16 sq mi)
  • Northern District (77 km or 30 sq mi)
  • Vidzeme Suburb (57 km or 22 sq mi)
  • Latgale Suburb (50 km or 19 sq mi)

Riga's administrative divisions consist of six administrative entities: Central, Kurzeme and Northern Districts and the Latgale, Vidzeme and Zemgale Suburbs. Three entities were established on 1 September 1941, and the other three were established in October 1969. There are no official lower level administrative units, but the Riga City Council Development Agency is working on a plan, which officially makes Riga consist of 58 neighbourhoods. The current names were confirmed on 28 December 1990.

Panorama over Riga from St. Peter's Church

Riga: Climate

The climate of Riga is humid continental (Köppen Dfb). The coldest months are January and February, when the average temperature is −5 °C (23 °F) but temperatures as low as −20 to −25 °C (−4 to −13 °F) can be observed almost every year on the coldest days. The proximity of the sea causes frequent autumn rains and fogs. Continuous snow cover may last eighty days. The summers in Riga are cool and humid with the average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F), while the temperature on the hottest days can exceed 30 °C (86 °F).

Climate data for Riga
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 10.2
(50.4)
13.5
(56.3)
20.5
(68.9)
27.9
(82.2)
30.1
(86.2)
32.5
(90.5)
34.1
(93.4)
33.6
(92.5)
29.3
(84.7)
23.4
(74.1)
17.2
(63)
11.5
(52.7)
34.1
(93.4)
Average high °C (°F) −2.3
(27.9)
−1.7
(28.9)
2.7
(36.9)
9.8
(49.6)
16.2
(61.2)
20.1
(68.2)
21.7
(71.1)
21.0
(69.8)
16.3
(61.3)
10.4
(50.7)
3.9
(39)
0.3
(32.5)
9.87
(49.76)
Daily mean °C (°F) −5.1
(22.8)
−4.7
(23.5)
−1.0
(30.2)
5.4
(41.7)
11.1
(52)
15.1
(59.2)
17.0
(62.6)
16.4
(61.5)
12.2
(54)
7.2
(45)
1.7
(35.1)
−2.1
(28.2)
6.1
(42.98)
Average low °C (°F) −7.8
(18)
−7.6
(18.3)
−4.7
(23.5)
1.0
(33.8)
5.9
(42.6)
10.0
(50)
12.3
(54.1)
11.8
(53.2)
8.0
(46.4)
4.0
(39.2)
−0.5
(31.1)
−4.4
(24.1)
2.33
(36.19)
Record low °C (°F) −33.7
(−28.7)
−34.9
(−30.8)
−23.3
(−9.9)
−11.4
(11.5)
−5.3
(22.5)
−1.2
(29.8)
4.0
(39.2)
0.0
(32)
−4.1
(24.6)
−8.7
(16.3)
−18.9
(−2)
−31.9
(−25.4)
−34.9
(−30.8)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 33.7
(1.327)
27.0
(1.063)
27.9
(1.098)
41.1
(1.618)
42.5
(1.673)
59.9
(2.358)
74.3
(2.925)
73.1
(2.878)
78.9
(3.106)
60.2
(2.37)
57.3
(2.256)
46.0
(1.811)
620.9
(24.445)
Average precipitation days 21.5 18.6 15.7 11.0 11.8 12.1 12.8 13.7 13.0 16.0 18.9 20.6 185.7
Average relative humidity (%) 87.9 85.2 79.4 69.7 67.7 72.0 74.2 76.7 81.1 85.1 90.2 89.4 79.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 31.0 62.2 127.1 183.0 263.5 288.0 263.5 229.4 153.0 93.0 39.0 21.7 1,754.4
Source #1: Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Agency (avg high and low)
Source #2: NOAA (sun and extremes)

Riga: Economy

Riga is one of the key economic and financial centres of the Baltic States. Roughly half of all the jobs in Latvia are in Riga and the city generates more than 50% of Latvia's GDP as well as around half of Latvia's exports. The biggest exporters are in wood products, IT, food and beverage manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, transport and metallurgy. Riga Port is one of the largest in the Baltics. It handled a record 34 million tons of cargo in 2011 and has potential for future growth with new port developments on Krievu Sala. Tourism is also a large industry in Riga and after a slowdown during the recent global economic recessions, grew 22% in 2011 alone.

Riga: Transport

One of the several Trolleybus types in Riga

Riga, with its central geographic position and concentration of population, has always been the infrastructural hub of Latvia. Several national roads begin in Riga, and European route E22 crosses Riga from the east and west, while the Via Baltica crosses Riga from the south and north.

As a city situated by a river, Riga also has several bridges. The oldest standing bridge is the Railway Bridge, which is also the only railroad-carrying bridge in Riga. The Stone Bridge (Akmens tilts) connects Old Riga and Pārdaugava; the Island Bridge (Salu tilts) connects Maskavas Forštate and Pārdaugava via Zaķusala; and the Shroud Bridge (Vanšu tilts) connects Old Riga and Pārdaugava via Ķīpsala. In 2008, the first stage of the new Southern Bridge (Dienvidu tilts) route across the Daugava was completed, and was opened to traffic on 17 November.

The Southern Bridge was the biggest construction project in the Baltic states in 20 years, and its purpose was to reduce traffic congestion in the city centre. Another major construction project is the planned Riga Northern Transport Corridor; its first segment detailed project was completed in 2015.

The Freeport of Riga facilitates cargo and passenger traffic by sea. Sea ferries currently connect Riga Passenger Terminal to Stockholm operated by Tallink.

A Škoda 15 T tram in Riga

Riga has one active airport that serves commercial airlines-the Riga International Airport (RIX), built in 1973. Renovation and modernization of the airport was completed in 2001, coinciding with the 800th anniversary of the city. In 2006, a new terminal extension was opened. Extension of the runway was completed in October 2008, and the airport is now able to accommodate large aircraft such as the Airbus A340, Boeing 747, 757, 767 and 777. Another terminal extension is under construction as of 2014. The annual number of passengers has grown from 310,000 in 1993 to 4.7 million in 2014, making Riga International Airport the largest in the Baltic States.

The former international airport of Riga, Spilve Airport, located 5 km (3.11 mi) from Riga city centre, is currently used for small aircraft, pilot training and recreational aviation. Riga was also home to a military air base during the Cold War - Rumbula Air Base.

Public transportation in the city is provided by Rīgas Satiksme which operates a large number of trams, buses and trolleybuses on an extensive network of routes across the city. In addition, up until 2012 many private owners operated minibus services, after which the City Council established the unified transport company Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme, establishing a monopoly over the service.

Riga is connected to the rest of Latvia by trains operated by the national carrier Passenger Train, whose headquarters are in Riga. There are also international rail services to Russia and Belarus, and plans to revive passenger rail traffic with Estonia. A TEN-T project called Rail Baltica envisages building a high-speed railway line via Riga connecting Tallinn to Warsaw using standard gauge, expected to be put into operation in 2024.

Riga International Coach Terminal provides domestic and international connections by coach.

Riga: Government

Riga City Council
Nils Ušakovs, the first ethnic Russian mayor of Riga in independent Latvia

The head of the city government in Riga is the mayor. Incumbent mayor Nils Ušakovs, who is a member of the Harmony party, took office on 1 July 2009.

The city council is a democratically elected institution and is the final decision-making authority in the city. The Council consists of 60 members who are elected every four years. The Presidium of the Riga City Council consists of the Chairman of the Riga City Council and the representatives delegated by the political parties or party blocks elected to the City Council.

Riga: Demographics

With 639,630 inhabitants in 2016 as according to the Central statistical administration of Latvia, Riga is the largest city in the Baltic States, though its population has decreased from just over 900,000 in 1991. Notable causes include emigration and low birth rates. Some have estimated that the population may fall by as much as 50% by 2050. According to the 2017 data, ethnic Latvians made up 44.03% of the population of Riga, with the percentage of ethnic Russians at 37.88%, Belarusians at 3.72%, Ukrainians at 3.66%, Poles at 1.83% and other ethnicities at 9.10%. By comparison, 60.1% of Latvia's total population are ethnic Latvians, 26.2% are Russians, 3.3% are Belarusians, 2.4% are Ukrainians, 2.1% are Polish, 1.2% are Lithuanians and the remaining 4.7% are accounted for by other ethnicities.

Upon the restoration of Latvia's independence in 1991, Soviet era immigrants (and any of their offspring born before 1991) were not automatically granted Latvian citizenship because they had migrated to the territory of Latvia during the years when Latvia was part of the Soviet Union. In 2013 citizens of Latvia made up 73.1%, non-citizens 21.9% and citizens of other countries 4.9% of the population of Riga. The proportion of ethnic Latvians in Riga increased from 36.5% in 1989 to 42.4% in 2010. In contrast, the percentage of Russians fell from 47.3% to 40.7% in the same time period. Latvians overtook Russians as the largest ethnic group in 2006. Further projections show that the ethnic Russian population will continue a steady decline, despite higher birth rates, due to emigration.

Riga: Historic population figures

population in thousands.

Riga: Notable residents

  • Rutanya Alda, a Latvian-American actress
  • Helmuts Balderis, a Latvian ice hockey player
  • Mikhail Baryshnikov, a Russian dancer, choreographer, and actor
  • Ernst von Bergmann, a Baltic German surgeon, pioneer of aseptic surgery
  • Sir Isaiah Berlin, a British social and political theorist, philosopher and historian of ideas
  • Andris Biedriņš, a Latvian professional basketball player
  • Gunnar Birkerts, a Latvian-American architect
  • Leonīds Breikšs, a Latvian poet, author, and newspaper editor
  • Tanhum Cohen-Mintz, an Israeli basketball player
  • Jacob W. Davis,(born Jacob Youphes), inventor of jeans (pants)
  • Valdis Dombrovskis, a Latvian politician, Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro of the European Commission
  • Kaspars Dubra, a Latvian footballer
  • Mikhail Eisenstein, Latvian architect
  • Sergei Eisenstein, a Soviet Russian film director and film theorist
  • Heinz Erhardt, a Baltic German comedian, musician and entertainer
  • Jakob Benjamin Fischer, a Baltic German naturalist and apothecary
  • Artur Fonvizin, a Soviet painter of watercolours
  • Laila Freivalds, former Swedish Minister for Justice, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister
  • Elīna Garanča, a Latvian operatic mezzo-soprano
  • Zemgus Girgensons, an ice hockey player for the Buffalo Sabres, the highest-ever drafted Latvian in the NHL Entry Draft
  • Philippe Halsman, an American portrait photographer
  • Johann Georg Hamann, German philosopher, teacher of J. G. Herder, the ideologue of Sturm und Drang movement
  • Juris Hartmanis, a prominent Latvian-American computer scientist and computational theorist, a recipient of the Turing Award
  • Nicolai Hartmann, a Baltic German philosopher, one of the most important twentieth century metaphysicians
  • Johann Gottfried Herder, a German philosopher, theologian, poet, and literary critic
  • Lola Hoffmann, a physiologist, psychiatrist and guide to self-development and transformation
  • Miervaldis Jursevskis, a Latvian-Canadian chess master
  • Charles Kalme, an American International Master of chess and mathematician
  • Karlis Kaufmanis, astronomer
  • Mstislav Keldysh, a Soviet mathematician, an advocate of the creation of the first artificial satellite
  • Gidon Kremer, a Latvian violinist and conductor
  • Ivan Krylov, a Russian fabulist
  • Yeshayahu Leibowitz, an Israeli public intellectual and polymath
  • DJ Lethal, an American music producer
  • Ernst Munzinger, German Abwehr (Army intelligence) officer, later anti-Nazi
  • Wilhelm Ostwald, a Baltic German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate in 1909
  • Sandis Ozoliņš, a Latvian ice hockey player, a seven-time NHL All-Star, Stanley Cup champion
  • Marians Pahars, a Latvian footballer
  • Raimonds Pauls, a Latvian composer and piano player
  • Kristjan Jaak Peterson, an Estonian poet
  • Valentin Pikul, a Soviet historical novelist
  • Alfred Rosenberg, a Baltic German theorist and an influential ideologue of the Nazi Party
  • Johann Steinhauer, an entrepreneur, industrialist and Latvian civil rights pioneer in the 18th century
  • Mikhail Tal, Soviet-Latvian chess grandmaster and the eighth World Chess Champion, nicknamed "The Wizard of Riga"
  • Juris Upatnieks, a Latvian-American physicist and inventor in the field of holography
  • Valdis Valters, a Latvian basketball player
  • Richard Wagner, a German composer, theatre director, polemicist
  • Friedrich Zander, a Baltic German engineer, designer of the first Soviet liquid-fuelled rocket
  • Walter Zapp, a Baltic German inventor

Riga: Architecture

The radio and TV tower of Riga is the tallest structure in Latvia and the Baltic States, and one of the tallest in the European Union, reaching 368.5 m (1,209 ft). Riga centre also has many great examples of Art Nouveau architecture, as well as a medieval old town.

Riga: Art Nouveau

It is generally recognized that Riga has the finest and the largest collection of art nouveau buildings in the world. This is due to the fact that at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, when Art Nouveau was at the height of its popularity, Riga experienced an unprecedented financial and demographic boom. In the period from 1857 to 1914 its population grew from 282,000 to 558,000 making it the 4th largest city in the Russian Empire (after Saint-Petersburg, Moscow and Warsaw) and its largest port. The bourgeoisie of Riga used their wealth to build imposing apartment blocks around the former city walls. Local architects, mostly graduates of Riga Technical University, adopted current European movements, and in particular Art Nouveau. In that period around 800 Art Nouveau buildings were erected. The majority of them are concentrated in the central part of Riga and a few more in the Old Town.

Riga: Culture

The logo for the city of Riga, designed for its 800th anniversary (it means Riga: City of inspiration).

Riga: Theatres

  • The Latvian National Opera was founded in 1918. The repertoire of the theatre embraces all opera masterpieces. The Latvian National Opera is famous not only for its operas, but for its ballet troupe as well.
  • The Latvian National Theatre was founded in 1919. The Latvian National Theatre preserves the traditions of Latvian drama school. It is one of the biggest theatres in Latvia.
  • The Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre is the oldest professional drama theatre in Latvia, established in 1883. The repertoire of the theatre includes classical plays and experimental performances of Russian and other foreign playwrights.
  • The Daile Theatre was opened for the first time in 1920. It is one of the most successful theatres in Latvia. This theatre is distinguished by its frequent productions of modern foreign plays.
  • Latvian State Puppet Theatre was founded in 1944. This theatre presents shows for children and adults.
  • The New Riga Theatre was opened in 1992. It has an intelligent and attractive repertoire of high quality that focused on a modern, educated and socially active audience.

Riga: World Choir Games

Riga hosted the biannual 2014 World Choir Games from 9–19 July 2014 which coincided with the city being named European Capital of Culture for 2014. The event, organised by the choral foundation, Interkultur, takes place at various host cities every two years and was originally known as the "Choir Olympics". The event regularly sees over 15'000 choristers in over 300 choirs from over 60 nations compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in over 20 categories. The competition is further divided into a Champions Competition and an Open Competition to allow choirs from all backgrounds to enter. Choral workshops and festivals are also witnessed in the host cities and are usually open to the public.

Riga: Sports

Riga has a rich basketball history. In the 1950s ASK Riga became the best club in the Soviet Union and also in Europe, winning the first three editions of the European Cup for Men's Champions Clubs from 1958 to 1960.

In 1960, ASK was not the only team from Riga to take the European crown. TTT Riga clinched their first title in the European Cup for Women's Champion Clubs, turning Riga into the capital city of European basketball because for the first and, so far, only time in the history of European basketball, clubs from the same city were concurrent European Men's and Women's club champions.

In 2015, Riga was one of the hosts for EuroBasket 2015.

Riga: Sports clubs

  • Basketball
    • BK VEF Rīga – a professional basketball team that is a three-time Latvian champion. VEF also participates in high-level international competition such as Eurocup
    • Barons LMT – a men's basketball team, two-time Latvian champion, as well as the 2008 FIBA EuroCup winner
    • TTT Riga – a women's basketball team, which between 1960 and 1982 won eighteen FIBA EuroLeague Women titles
  • Ice hockey
    • Dinamo Riga – a professional ice hockey club established in 2008. It plays in the Kontinental Hockey League. Dinamo was established as a successor to the former hockey team with the same name, which was founded in 1946 but ceased to exist in 1995.
    • HK Riga – a junior hockey club, playing in the Minor Hockey League
  • Football
    • Skonto FC – a football club established in 1991. The club won fourteen successive Latvian Higher League titles. For a long time it provided the core of the Latvian national football team
    • FS Metta-LU

Riga: Sports facilities

Skonto Stadium
  • Arena Riga – a multi-purpose arena built in 2006 as the main venue for the 2006 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships. It can hold up to 14,500 people and has hosted ice hockey, basketball and volleyball events, as well as Red Bull X-Fighters
  • Skonto Stadium – a football stadium, built in 2000. It is the main stadium used for games of the Latvian national football team
  • Daugava Stadium – a stadium built in 1958, used for both football and athletics
  • Latvijas Universitates Stadions
  • Biķernieku Kompleksā Sporta Bāze – Latvia's leading motorsport complex

Riga: Sports events

  • Eurobasket 1937
  • 1999 European Athletics Junior Championships
  • EuroBasket Women 2009
  • 2006 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships
  • Riga Marathon
  • 2013 World Women's Curling Championship
  • 2014 Cricket Latvia play Masstor Cricket Club
  • EuroBasket 2015
  • 2016 Men's World Floorball Championships

Riga: Universities

  • University of Latvia (LU)
  • Art Academy of Latvia (LMA)
  • Riga Technical University (RTU)
  • Riga Stradiņš University (RSU)
  • Riga Graduate School of Law (RGSL)
  • School of Business Administration Turiba (BAT)
  • Stockholm School of Economics in Riga (SSE Riga)
  • BA School of Business and Finance (BA)
  • Transport and Telecommunication Institute (TTI)
  • Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration (RISEBA)

Riga: Sister cities

Riga maintains sister city relationships with the following cities:

  • Denmark Aalborg, Denmark
  • Kazakhstan Almaty, Kazakhstan
  • Netherlands Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
  • Kazakhstan Astana, Kazakhstan
  • China Beijing, China
  • France Bordeaux, France
  • Germany Bremen, Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, Germany
  • Australia Cairns, Queensland, Australia
  • France Calais, Nord, France
  • United States Dallas, Texas, United States
  • Italy Florence, Tuscany, Italy
  • Ukraine Kiev, Ukraine
  • Japan Kobe, Japan
  • Belarus Minsk, Belarus
  • Russia Central Administrative Okrug, Moscow, Russia
  • Sweden Norrköping, Sweden
  • Finland Pori, Finland
  • Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic
  • Germany Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
  • Russia Saint Petersburg, Russia:
  • Chile Santiago, Chile
  • Sweden Stockholm, Sweden
  • China Suzhou, Jiangsu, People's Republic of China
  • Taiwan Taipei, Taiwan
  • Estonia Tallinn, Estonia
  • Uzbekistan Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • Estonia Tartu, Estonia
  • Georgia (country) Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Lithuania Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Armenia Yerevan, Armenia (2013)
  • Poland Warsaw, Poland

Riga: See also

  • Archbishops of Riga
  • Riga City Council
  • Riga Charter, on cultural heritage conservation, adopted here in 2000
  • Riga Region
  • Rīgas Satiksme
  • Riga Salsa Festival
  • Siege of Riga

Riga: References

Riga: Notes

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  92. "Miasta partnerskie Warszawy". um.warszawa.pl (in Polish). Biuro Promocji Miasta. 4 May 2005. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 29 August 2008.
  • Riga Municipality portal
  • Riga travel guide from Wikivoyage
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