Art Nouveau - Riga, Latvia forward look here Unspoiled nature - Keila Waterfall, Estonia forward look here UNESCO World Heritage Site - The Curonian Spit, Lithuania forward look here

About Latvia

Latvia (Fact sheet)
Latvia is one of Europe's Last hidden treasures. The country is plotted with small picturesque medieval towns, country castles, museums and folk parks, ruined fortresses and, occasionally, grand palaces. Everywhere you will find intriguing evidence of distinctivel Latvian customs, crafts and culture, and of a determination to preserve and restore the best of the nation's heritage. The access to the Baltic Sea and the important Daugava River made early the area to an important point on the trading routes from North Europe to Russia and Byzantium. But the location brought not only wealth but also strive and throughout the centuries the area was subjected to foreign rule - all or various parts of country were governed at different times by Germany, Sweden, Poland, Russia and Soviet Union. As a matter of fact Latvia has only existed as an independent state for two short historical periods - during the 2 world wars in the last century and again from August 1991 when Latvian independence was restored in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. After centuries of foreign domination, Latvia is again transforming herself into an economically and politically stable democracy, ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
horizontal line
Riga - the new Baltic Metropolis
From most European cities Riga is close both time-wise and geographically. Within Riga too, everything is close and compact - next to the medieval Old Town you will find the New Town build in the 19th century after the city fortifications were taken down with green parks and broad boulevard and the Art Noveau districts. Riga is the capital of Art Nouveau. No other city in Europe can boost such fine examples of Art Nouveau and buildings in this particular style occupy more than one third of downtown Riga. Miraculously the medieval Old Town has been neither badly damaged by war nor disfigured by high rise development. You'll fall in love with these cobbled narrow streets. Wherever you turn you'll find a wealth of historic buildings such the Dome Cathedral with it's world famous organ, St. Peters Church built back in 1209 with first clock in the city or Guild Square with the Large and the Small Guild that represent a former glory of Riga as a Hanseatic City. Today vast reconstruction works, new comfortable hotels, modern office buildings, cozy restaurants and fashionable shops help makes Riga to recapture its former beauty and to become the New Baltic Metropolis.
horizontal line
Jurmala, a resort town possessing 150-year-old resort traditions, occupies approximately one-tenth part of the Latvian coastal line. Its 30 km of the finest sandy beaches, with safe bathing, warm waters in summer, and elegant residences nestling among scented pine woods certainly make it the Riviera of the Baltic. Jurmala with its romantic wooden houses in Art Nouveau style, its spacious beaches, forests, and calmly flowing Lielupe river is especially attractive in the modern world, for it has not lost its tranquility. Add to this the numerous spa and curative facilities, a "micro-climate" of it's own, and easy access to Latvia's capital Riga, and you have a very special resort destination.
horizontal line
The Gauja National Park & Sigulda
The Gauja National Park and was established in 1973. The park consists of more than 900 and is in located in the area known as "Vidzemes Sveici" - the Livonian Switzerland. The park offers a unique combination of picturesque hill landscapes, the Gauja River, medieval castles, sculpture parks and fauna and flora that are already extinct in many countries in Europe.
Of special interest are:
Sigulda: The entrance to the Gauja National Park, a small idyllic town with 10.000 inhabitants only an hours drive from Riga. The foundation of the town dates back in history and in the beginning of the 13th century the German Order built a large castle here. The castle was destroyed during the Great Nordic War - but the ruins of the main building and the 2 towers are left and are used for dance and song festivals. Turaida: On the other side of the river you will find the Gutman Cave, a huge red sandstone cave and the ruins of the Turaida Castle. The castle was inaugurated by Bishop Albert of Riga andcompleted in 1214. At Turaida you can also visit the Thomb of the "Rose of Turaida", the Daina sculpture park, inspired by folk song themes and feel yourself like a part of fairy tale all surrounded by medieval mysteries and legends. Cesis: located 90 km northeast of Riga is known for its unspoilt character. The Old Town center creates a warm, seductive ambience. Don't miss the 13th century St. John's church and opposite the church you'll find the castle ruins of the Livonian order, built by German knights in 1209. The New Palace from the 18th century next to the castleit is home of the Cesis museum.
horizontal line
Rundale Palace
Head south from Riga and explore the 18th century grandeur of the Rundale Palace, summer residence of the Duke of Courland Ernest Johann von Biron and designed by the architect of the St. Petersburg Winter Palace Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Thanks to restoration you would hardly believe that the Germans used it as a granary in World War 2. At present 40 rooms on the first and second floors with original interior and furniture are open to the public.
horizontal line
Kurzeme is the name of the region comprising western Latvia. As a Grand Duchy for many years und the name of courland, the area to some extent retains a distinct identity. Duke Jakob of Courland who ruled the Grand Duchy in the 17th century build up the strength of Courland both at home and overseas including in the colonized small islands in West Africa and the West Indies.. The area nowadays is largely rural and sparsely populated. The northern part is heavily forested, It also has hilly areas, In the tiny villages around Cape Kolka there is still a small community of Livs, ancient inhabitants of this area. The largest cities are Ventspils and Liepaja, while Jelgava being the capital of Courland is not a part of present day Kurzeme.
Liepaja: The city became a major port during the Grand Duchy of Courland's golden age. Unfortunately, much of the historical city center fell victim to the destruction of the World War II. The Art-Nouveau style in Liepaja architecture is special with its restraint and laconism. Liepajas 18th century St. Trinity Lutheran Church is famous for its organ.
Ventspils: Ventspils Free Port is the largest port in Latvia and the leading one among the ports of the Baltic Sea Region. Ventspils is a self-governing administrative territory managed by a City Council and has seen tremendous changes in many spheres during the last ten years. With the completionof the renovation works the Old City, many parks and squares have regained their former beauty. The cultural life of the city has also become very active.
Jelgava Historically the city suffered more that any other cities in Latvia during both world wars, The main reason to visit Jelgava is to see another Rastrelli palace - Jelgava Palace which presently is functioning as the Latvian Agricultural University.
horizontal line
Latgale is an ancient and singular state in the eastern part of Latvia and is separated from the rest of Latvia by three rivers. Latgale is rightly called the Land of Blue Lakes a thousand small lakes .The towns and the countryside of Latgale are very unique and differ from those of the rest of Latvia The largests cities are Daugavpils and Rezekne.
Daugavpils, the 2nd largest city in Latvia was first mentioned in the 13th century. Remarkable sights in Daugavpils are the 18th century Dinaburg Fortress, the 19th century St. Peter's Roman-Catholic Church Russian-Orthodox Church St. Martyrs Boris and Gleb and Griva Russian Old-believers' Church and beautiful nature park "Daugava's Circles".
Rezekne: The town was a part of the Polish and Russian empires, respectively, until it was finally joined with Latvia in 1917. A cultural centreduring the first Latvian republic, it gained the reputation of being the true heart of Latgale, both geographically and spiritually. Rezekne Castle ruins, once a stronghold for the Livonian Order, was almost completely destroyed by the Polish army in the mid-17th century. Today only ruins and one lonely arch remain. Another place of interest is Rezekne Museum and Ceramics Hall, featuring the region's past together with exhibits of local pottery with hundreds of examples of ceramic vases, vessels and candelabra.
Baltic Catalogues
   Baltic Tours 2019
   Baltic New Year Tour    Baltic Winter Tours    Riga Christmas Tour    Riga New Year Tour    Copenhagen Winter Tour
   Moscow Winter Tour    Stockholm Winter Tour    St. Petersburg Tour    Tallinn Christmas Market    Tallinn New Year Tour