Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum, Riga

4.5 out of 5 stars 7 Reviews

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  • Inside the wooden church
    Inside the wooden church
    by fachd
  • Wooden windmill
    Wooden windmill
    by fachd
  • Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum
    by fachd
  • leics's Profile Photo

    If you make only one trip.....

    by leics Written Aug 26, 2013

    ......make it to this lovely, forested place. You could take a picnic if the weather's good, although there's an original inn which serves beer, coffee, soft drinks etc and food (grey peas, cake etc etc). The inn is at the entrance though, and the museum is very extensive.....

    To get there, take bus 1 to 'Brivdabas Muzejs' (Riga's buses all have electronic displays and announcements about the next stop, so it's very easy). Although it's 6km outside the city the standard fare applies, so it's just a matter of swiping your eticket or paying the driver.

    Journey time is around 30 minutes and it's pretty unlikely you'll have the same experience as me. I was entirely confused as to why the bus was fully-stuffed with people on a Sunday morning. It was only when we arrived and almost everyone got off that I realised I was visiting on a 'special event' day (see travelogue

    The museum site is very large and largely forested, so it makes a very pleasant place for a walk even if you have no particular interest in historical buildings. The buildings on site (all are wooden) come from all over Latvia and have been restored and re-erected. Most date from the 1800s and early 1900s, although there are one or two which area bit older.

    There are windmills and churches, farmhouses and fishermen's cottages. The interiors of most are furnished as they would have been originally and you can go inside those which have an attendant in costume). I think which buildings are open varies from day to day, so you might not see the interiors which I saw. In some buildings you may come across volunteers demonstrating traditional crafts; I saw a gentleman using a lathe to create spindles and chair-legs.

    I was very impressed by this museum, as I am by all such open-air ethnographic museums, and having the buildings dotted about a forested site makes it feel as if you really are wandering around a small Latvian settlement.

    It's most definitely worth visiting and, given how easy it is to get there, you should be able to fit it into your itinerary.

    Open every day from 1000 to 1700. Entrance is 3 Lats in summer, 1.5 Lats in winter (I imagine fewer buildings are open in the winter months). There is plenty of parking if you are coming by car.

    More building photos in this travelogue

    Into the woods..... Using a foot-operated lathe In a cottage, in a wood.... Windmill Site map
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Architecture

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  • fachd's Profile Photo

    Open Air Ethnographic Museum

    by fachd Written Sep 22, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Open Air Ethnographic Museum is located on the outskirt of Riga in a pine forest on the shores of Jugla Lake, about 40 minutes by bus. It is set on 100 hectares of land. You can walk in the forest and discover how the ancient farmers lives, how the local craftsmen perform various task, see the windmills, churches, farmhouses, barns and see how the people dresses in the their traditional clothing. As a tourist you can try the Latvian cuisine and even purchased the local craft as a souvenir to take home. Even though it was wet we still enjoyed the open air museum.

    The historic buildings structures covering characteristic of Kurzeme, Zemgale, Vidzeme and Latgale regions of Latvia have been rebuilt and preserved in the Latvian Open-Air Ethnographic Museum. The museum was founded in 1924 and opened to public in 1932.

    Open Daily from 10am – 5pm (all year)

    Inside the barn Inside the wooden church Wooden windmill The local craftswoman
    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Museum Visits
    • Photography

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  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Jun 17, 2011

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I will confess up front that I am a complete sucker for 'skansen' type museums, so the fact that we made a beeline for the open air ethnographic museum just outside Riga should come as little surprise.

    The museum is set in attractive woodland by a lake just to the east of Riga. Buildings that are representative of different architectural styles and ethnic groups have been relocated to the site from across Latvia and are pleasingly clustered in glades throughout the woodland. Most - if not all - of the buildings are wooden, and are predominantly agricultural: mostly farmhouses and farm outbuildings interspersed with a few chapels and a couple of windmills.

    Skansens are the ideal sort of family museum, as their outdoor setting allows kids to run free. So even if your offspring show little interest in the structures and their history, chances are that you will still have the opportunity to explore the buildings. As most of the buildings come from a rural setting, the reconstruction in a woodland setting is fairly authentic, and it's easy to conjur up images of how Latvian life must have been in the not-too-distant past.

    The forest setting provides plenty of opportunity for picnicking, but in case you're not that well organised, there is a restaurant serving traditional Latvian fare, as well as a small shop.
    The only downside of an outdoor museum is of course that you are exposed to the elements, and despite the protection offered by the forest, this wouldn't be much fun in heavy rain or snow. We visited on a day of intermittent showers, which didn't really affect our enjoyment.
    As we walked back through the forest towards the car park, we heard a cuckoo calling - the iconic sound of a European summer.

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  • cheekymarieh's Profile Photo

    Open Air Ethnographic Museum

    by cheekymarieh Updated Apr 4, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Under construction

    This is a vast museum set in acres of countryside. There are lots of fascinatining wooden buildings which illustrate how life used to be in Riga. We happily spent the whole day there wandering in and out of the various churches, farms, country houses, windmills etc. There is also a little fishing village. You can view local crafts and ways of life being carried out by the craftsmen. Everything feels like you are stepping back in time.

    While you are there you can also sample some of the local food and drink.

    Admission fee: 1Ls
    Open: 10am to 5pm

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  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum

    by MalenaN Written Jan 5, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum is situated 12 km east of the city centre, by Lake Jugla. When the museum opened up in 1932 there were only six buildings, but now the museum consists of a large number of old wooden farmhouses, churches, windmills and a fishing village. The buildings are spread out in a pine forest and the museum covers an area of 100 hectares. The old traditional buildings, which are from the 16th - 19th century, come from different rural regions of Latvia. Inside the houses are furniture, tools and artefacts . When I visited, in the middle of winter, there were not so many houses that were open.

    Near the entrance is a big building, an old roadside inn. Here you will find a souvenir shop and a restaurant.
    The museum is open every day between 10 - 17.
    Entrance fee was 1.50 Ls (December 2008).
    At the entrance it can be good to buy a map over the area. The one in English was 0.60 Ls.
    To go here you take bus 1 from the city centre.

    The day I visited there was a Solstice festivity. I arrived earlier to see the area before the festivity begun and then I stayed two hours to see the celebrations. I will write more about that in the local custom tips.

    Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum
    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel

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  • tini58de's Profile Photo

    The Ethnographic Open Air Museum

    by tini58de Written Oct 20, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Just outside the city of Riga, about a 30 minute bus ride away, you will find 100 hectares of beautifully reconstructed buildings from all over Latvia: farmsteads, windmills, fishing villages, churches and other historical structures have been moved here in order to preserve them and save them from being torn down. You can walk here for hours and hours, you can watch craftsmen perform various tasks or try some Latvian cuisine and drink in the tavern. That is truly delicious!!!

    One hint: go there fairly early, because you will really enjoy strolling around this foresty area!

    The museum is open from 10a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (all year)

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  • ealgisi's Profile Photo

    Ethnographic Open Air Museum

    by ealgisi Written Jul 5, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Founded in 1924, the Latvian Ethnographic Museum is one of the oldest open-air museums in Europe. Historical dwellings, peasants', fishermen's and artisans' homesteads, a tavern and windmills have been gathered here from all over Latvia.

    Masters of 18 different crafts demonstrate their work: spoon-carvers, bee-keepers, potters and others. Services are held at Usma Church every Sunday. The organ and folk music concerts and regular craft fairs that take place in the summer time are not to be missed. The collection contains 100 000 items.

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