Unspoilt nature, pagan traditions, UNESCO heritage, pure food and 500 km of white sand beaches – this is a brief snapshot of Latvia. One of three Baltic States, Latvia is a one-of-a-kind mix of old and new, a bridge between the East and the West and proud to celebrate its centenary in 2018.
Riga – Northern European’s Art Nouveau capital
In its 800 years of turbulent history, everyone from German knights to Swedish kings and Soviet commissars have left their footprints, and today Latvia’s capital is an exciting European metropolis at the crossroads of eastern and northern Europe.
Riga’s astonishing skyline tells the story, as the timeless Gothic spires in the Old Town mingle with the fantastic facades of one of the world’s richest collections of Art Nouveau on the grand boulevards. The central location for Art Nouveau style buildings is the downtown quarter known as the “Quiet Centre” – just a 10-minute stroll from Old Town. It is a vibrant feature in Riga’s history, with Albert Street truly the main gem. Each edifice there is a unique masterpiece of design and construction. The style’s active period was relatively short – from 1901 to 1908. Eight of the Albert Street buildings have been officially designated architectural landmarks.
About the Freeport of Riga
The 2019 Annual General Meeting and the AIVP Days are being organised jointly with the Port of Riga, which has been an AIVP member since 2006.
The Freeport of Riga is a major port on the east coast of the Baltic Sea, is located in Riga, the capital of Latvia. It stretched for 15 kilometres along both banks of the Daugava within the city limits, the area of the port is 1962 hectares and 6348 hectares of water area. Navigation is carried out year-round.
Main types of cargo handled at the Freeport of Riga are containers, various metals, timber, coal, mineral fertilizers, chemical cargo and oil products. Up to 80% of the Freeport of Riga cargo turnover is made up of transit cargo forwarded to or received from the CIS.
Cargo transhipment capacity at the terminals of the Freeport of Riga accounts for 63,2 million tons per annum.
Riga is the biggest port of Latvia and second biggest port of the Baltic States by cargo turnover that reached 33,7 million tons (2017). In 2012, the Freeport of Riga took the 4th place in overall cargo turnover among the ports of the eastern Baltic and 3rd place in container freight turnover.
Number of vessels accommodated in 2017 amounted to 3422 with total tonnage of 46,1 million GT.
34 stevedore companies and 31 shipping agents successfully operate at the Freeport of Riga.
Riga in summer
Summer is the time for guests in Riga, and this is the time when one can hear languages from around the world on the streets of Riga. The city is blooming, smiling and bidding you to visit! It is also proud. Golden roosters watch the city from their perches high up on towers and their morning songs guard the city against evil. Long ago the roosters served as weather vanes guiding ships into Riga harbour and for this reason all churches along the Daugava River had golden roosters atop their towers instead of crosses. The highest tower in Old Riga is that of St. Peter’s Church with its observation platform at 72 meters. The television rower located on an island in the middle of the Daugava River is also an integral part of Riga’s skyline. It also has an observation deck, which at 97 meters is the highest publicly accessible viewpoint in Riga.
Riga’s landscape includes gingko trees, magnolias, and other noteworthy species. Riga’s most prestigious buildings, such as the National Opera, the National Theatre and the National Museum of Art are located on the boulevard circle (Elizabetes iela – Kronvalda bulvāris – Aspazijas bulvāris). Latvia’s symbol of freedom, the Freedom Monument, reaches for the sky on Brīvības bulvāris.
A visit to the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum is a must. It was established in 1924 and is one of the oldest such museums in Europe.
A 32-kilometer long series of white quartz sand beaches is located a mere thirty minute-drive from central Riga. The blue flag of the Foundation for Environment Education, the symbol of adherence to very high water quality standards, flies at several of the beaches. Nearby, the city of Jūrmala has several spa hotels offering a large variety of health and beauty services.
Take the elevator up to the observation platform located in the tower of St. Peter’s Church or to the roof terraces of some hotels to see panoramas of the city centre, Old Riga, and the Daugava River. The outdoor cafés are full of people, the many nightclub inspire dancing, and Riga does not sleep during the short summer nights.
Riga in numbers
Riga is the Central metropolis of the three Baltic nations (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). It is located 282 kilometres from Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, and 268 kilometres from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.
Riga has twinning agreements or sister city relationships with 29 cities worldwide.
2.5 million tourists visited Riga in 2008, and the number keeps growing.
In June the day is 17-18 hours long, and Latvians celebrate the shortest night of the year with bug celebrations on June 23-24. Summers in Latvia are sunny and warm with an average temperature of +19˚C. The warmest months of the year are July and August, when daytime temperatures can rise to above +30˚C.
Riga is an adventure for the taste buds too. The enormous Central Market is a treasure trove of earthy sausage, cheese and black rye bread, smoked fish, and much more. Sample the goods on a picnic in one of Riga’s lovely parks, or enjoy a hearty meal in many great value bistro and cafés.
To wash it down, sample intriguing local beers in the brew pubs along hipster strip Miera iela, or a cocktail with the mysterious Riga Black Balsam in fun-filled bars across town.
Black Rye bread, or “coarse” bread (rupjā maize) is one of the staples of the Latvian diet. Latvians say that work has no strength if one has eaten no rye bread. There are still plenty of bakeries in Latvia where rye bread is made by hand according to ancient recipes and baked in large, old ovens. Many of these bakeries are very good, but the most popular is Lači. Lači bakes not only simple and traditional rye bread, but also bread with nuts, caraway seeds and dried fruits.
Riga Black Balsam
In the mid-18th Century the Rigan Abraham Kunze created this drink based on 16th and 17th century medicinal recipes from Riga apothecaries. The alcoholic beverage is said to improve health. It is sold in ceramic carafes and has become one of the well-known symbols of Riga and Latvia worldwide. The drink lends a distinct taste to a number of cocktails and in winter it is recommended with hot black currant juice.
Amber – The most traditional souvenir
A gift of amber, the magical sun stone, means that the giver wishes you good luck and success in all endeavors. If you rub a painful area of your body with a piece of amber, it is said that the pain will disappear within a quarter of an hour.
The majority – approximately 80% – of the world’s amber is found in the Baltic Sea region. The largest piece of amber found in Latvia weighted 60 kilograms, and the Baltic Sea continues to leave many pieces of amber on its shores.
Amber jewellery and pieces of unpolished amber, which can be found in practically every shop in Old Riga, are favorite souvenirs from Latvia.
Riga Opera Festival 2019
Founded in 1998, the Riga Opera Festival will celebrate its 22nd anniversary this year. Over the years, the festival has become a much anticipated tradition, widely praised by the Latvian audience as well as foreign visitors.
Each summer, the Riga Opera Festival marls the end of the Latvian National Opera’s season and features the talented Latvian singers and illustrious foreign soloists and highlights from the season, as well as new productions.
- Wednesday, June 5th at 7pm, “L’incantesimo. Pagliacci”
- Thursday, June 6th at 7pm, “Don Pasquale”
- Friday, June 7th at 7pm, “Dialogues of the Carmelites”
- Saturday, June 8th at 7pm, “The Flying Dutchman”
Tickets available from EUR 9 to EUR 65
Latvia’s UEFA EURO 2020 qualification matches
The Latvian national football team, also known as the 11 Wolves, will meet with Poland, Austria, Israel, Slovenia and Macedonia in the qualification stage for the UEFA 2020 European Football Championships (EURO 2020). All of team Latvia’s home matches will be played at the Daugava Stadium in Riga.
- Friday, June 7th at 9.45pm, Latvia vs Israel
- Monday, June 10th at 9.45pm, Latvia vs Slovenia
Tickets available from EUR 35.70 to EUR 104.70
Night of Churches 2019
The cultural event Night of Churches invites everyone to discover the cultural and spiritual heritage of churches in Riga and Latvia.
In its 6th edition, almost two hundred churches in all regions of Latvia – Riga, Kurzeme, Zemgale, Vidzeme and Latgale – will participate and open their doors from 6pm until midnight with a variety of activities: guided tours on church history, special programs for children, vocal and instrumental concerts alongside silent and meditative contemplation.
Friday, June 7th at 6pm – Free entrance