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Private Walking Tour of Riga Old Town
"The most enchanting part of Riga is the Old Town. The buildings and the history surrounding them creates a fascinating and whimsical picture of Riga’s past. This area also offers all of the amenities that you could possibly need: bars night-clubs restaurants hotels museums and most importantly a great atmosphere.Our professional and certified tour guides will walk you through Riga.Old town of Riga is a beautiful place and we would like to tell you a little bit more about it on our famous Riga old town walking tour through:Town Hall Square Blackhead house St. Peter's Church Dome Square 15-18 century complex of dwelling ho
From EUR8.00
 
Old Town Walking Tour of Riga
"Riga is a city of good coffee jazz full of small delicious pastries and stylish cafes. You may not be able to get enough of Old Town’s architecture which is quite legendary. You will walk past the splendid House of Blackheads located next to the Town Hall Square and past the walls of fortresses and towers go into St. Peter’s Church and the Dome Cathedral. Then you will continue walking to the famous clock “LAIMA” and through a lovely opera park you will head to the magnificent Riga Opera House."""
From EUR27.00
 
Private Riga Grand City Tour
"Begin your 4-hour guided Riga Grand City Tour with a hotel pickup by air-conditioned car/minibus from your centrally located hotel. You will explore the magic of Riga which is known as the little Paris of the North due to it's medieval architecture rich cultural life many attractions and sights numerous shops and unique cafes. The tour route includes photo stops at city center highlights. As you travel through Riga your knowledgeable guide will point out the many fascinating sights in the old and newer parts of this beaut the famous Laima Clock and the Latvian National Opera House a unique architectural monument of the 19th century. Then you will travel past the Riga Central Station
From EUR40.00

Moscow District Tips (9)

Latgale Market (Latgalīte)

While walking around the Moscow District make sure you do not omit dropping into this small flea market on Sadovņikova iela.

I love this sort of place. It's one of those places where you can pick up almost anything from Lenin lapel pins to a new tyre for your car or an army uniform, to all sorts of reading material and music and software at suspiciously low prices.

Tucked away between the old vinyl records, obsolete electronics and assorted junk you just might find something that you must have. Even if you don’t, the fun here is the looking.

While I didn’t notice them myself, Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers can allegedly be acquired here, if you are into that sort of thing. That said, I suspect these, if you find them, may be as authentic as the heroin and vodka in the receptacles depicted in my final picture attached.

More believable is the assertion that should you have something stolen while in Riga, this is the place to come to buy it back, at only a fraction of what you originally paid for it!

While a bit on the shady side and having a reputation for pickpockets, the market is fairly open and I didn’t feel uncomfortable wandering around, though I did take less photographs than I normally would in a flea-market. I have since seen somewhere that photographs are not to be taken here – I doubt if this is the case but would advise discretion.

Absolutely, you should visit the market but just exercise extra caution to thwart would-be pickpockets.
Try not to stand out too much. By the way, no prizes for spotting the tourist in my main photo!

Opening Hours

Daily - 08:00-17:00 – best in the morning.


My Next Riga, Outside the Old City, Review

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wabat
Apr 08, 2016

All Saints Orthodox Church

All Saints Church was not my list of things to do in Riga for the simple reasons that it is not mentioned in mainstream tourist literature and has not been reviewed (to now) here on VirtualTourist.

I came across it by chance, and only because I noticed its very distinctive green copper domes, while wandering around in the Moscow District.

This beautiful red brick Latvian Orthodox church was consecrated in 1891 (replacing an earlier Byzantine style wooden building). The church, like many others, lost its bells and suffered damage, through looting, during WWI though it quickly recovered from this. It again came upon difficult times during the post WWII period when Latvia formed part of the former Soviet Union though this church, unlike most others, appears to have operated to some degree during Soviet times.

In 2004, the great dome of the church was completely replaced and other refurbishment was carried out.

At the time we visited, the church was undergoing a major internal refurbishment. While normally this would preclude a visitor from getting a good look around it actually worked to our benefit in this instance – in the sense that while the church’s precious icons had been either removed or covered in plastic we were not only allowed in but were also permitted to take photographs, something generally strictly prohibited in Orthodox churches.

While refurbishment was underway, the main part of the church was boarded off and only a small area just inside the main door was open for worship and general viewing. Having closely viewed and enjoyed what was available in this area, and taken a few photographs (pictures 2-4) a lady approached us and beckoned us outside. Were we being evicted?

The lady spoke no English but as we were finished our viewing we followed her outside. She then beckoned us to come down the side of the church by a small but interesting old graveyard, predating this and the former church, to a side door. Were we being brought to a superior being for admonishment?

We were neither being evicted nor admonished. The lady, obviously a church official or parishioner, had observed our keen interest in the church and had now lead us into the main part of the church, under the central dome, which was essentially a building site. Having pointed at some of the stunning artwork/fresocs within this area, which had almost totally been restored, and indicting, through her actions, that photos could be taken she left us to enjoy the artwork, which we most certainly did.

I thoroughly I recommend you make a short detour off the Moscow District 'tourist trail' to admire this beautiful church. Do check if photography is permitted once the main icons have been uncovered/reinstated and the church is fully open again, as it may not be.

Opening Hours

Not readily available though I believe it is open every day.

Getting there

On foot if you are exploring the Moscow District or via No 15 trolleybus – Katoļu iela stop (also, bus No 18 same stop).


My Next Riga, Outside the Old City, Review

wabat's Profile Photo
wabat
Apr 08, 2016

Horse Drawn Tram Sculpture

Trams first entered service in Riga in 1882. The city’s first trams were horse drawn and chugged along at around 10 km per hour, actually quite a respectable speed, I feel, when you consider they could carry up to 40 people.

This monument is dedicated to Riga’s horse drawn trams and is located on the edge of a small park (a former hay market) at Mazā kalna iela, in the centre of the Moscow District, which was serviced by the first trams. The monument is by a local artist, Andris Varpas, and is constructed from metal pieces, including old tram tracks. It was unveiled in 2009 as part of a wider scheme to revitalise the Moscow District more generally.

A nice touch when I visited was finding a couple of birds resting within the metal work. While I didn’t see any evidence of nests it would not surprise me if their nests were hidden somewhere within the mass of metal.

Electric trams replaced the horse drawn ones in 1901. As mentioned in my review on ‘Getting around Riga’ it is still possible to have a ride on one of the City’s first electric trams – alas there is no horse drawn option. Trams remain the best way for tourists to get around the main sites, outside the Old City, today.

The park is surrounded by some nice old buildings such as the one depicted in picture 4 attached, worthy a look in themselves as you wander around the Moscow District, generally admiring its abundance of ageing wooden houses.

Getting there from the city centre

Take tram 3,7 or 9 to Mazā kalna iela stop. The monument is conveniently located at the tram stop.

My final picture is courtesy Wikimedia.


My Next Riga, Outside the Old City, Review

wabat's Profile Photo
wabat
Apr 08, 2016

Grebenshchikov Old Believers Church

The original wooden Old Believers church, established by Aleksandr Grebenščikov on this site, was built in 1760. Its replacement, officially the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, was built in 1814 and remains home to one of the largest congregations of Old Believers in the world. The stunning tower and gold dome were added in 1906.

Who are these Old Believers? I hear you ask. Do let me tell you.

In 1666 the Russian Orthodox Church, under Patriarch Nikon of Moscow, made various ritual and textual changes to liturgies to achieve uniformity between the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches. A section of the church, henceforth called the Old Believers, dissented and to this day continues to follow liturgical practices found in the Russian Orthodox Church prior to the 1666 changes.

Due to severe church and state persecution, beginning in the 17th century, the dissenting Old Believers, over time, fled Russia. This persecution continued until 1905 when Tsar Nicholas II signed an act of religious freedom, ending the persecution of religious minorities.

This was a short lived reprieve. Following the Russian Revolution, which undid the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union, the Russian Orthodox Church was unable of function freely. This restriction lead to the creation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, centered in New York, in 1920. While still not officially connected with the Russian Orthodox Church (alternatively known as the Moscow Patriarchate) the Church Outside Russia shares a common faith with it.

In 1971 the Moscow Patriarchate revoked its censures imposed on the Old Believers in the 17th century and in 1974, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia did similarly, seeking forgiveness from the Old Believers for the wrongs done to them.

Despite the apologies from the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia most Old Believer communities, including this one in Riga, have not returned to Communion with the mainstream church (in either of its current forms).

Unfortunately, due to unsuitable attire (shorts), we were not permitted to enter the church and were left to admire the church's exterior only.

Would be visitors, and in particular females, should be aware that dress standards for this church are particularly strict. Among the prohibitions (see picture 4 attached) are ‘women with made up lips’ and ‘women in men’s wear (trousers)’.

Photography inside the curch is strictly prohibited.

Church opening hours

Irregular – around morning and afternoon prayer times. We were there around 10am (what day I can’t recall) and would have been admitted, had we been appropriately dressed.

Even if you can’t coincide your time with the church being open, the exterior is certainly worth a look if wandering around the Moscow District, as you should be.

Getting there from city

Tram 7 or 9 to the Daugavpils stop. From there you can't miss the church’s shiny golden dome.


My Next Riga, Outside the Old City, Review

wabat's Profile Photo
wabat
Apr 08, 2016
 
 
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Old Jewish Cemetery

Prior to 1725 Jews were not permitted to bury their dead in Riga and the closest Jewish cemetery was some 40kms away at Jelgava.

In 1725 a Jewish cemetery (the Old Jewish Cemetery) opened in what is now the Moscow District, then very much on the outskirts of the city. The cemetery remained in ‘civilian’ use until the 1920s when a new cemetery opened.

During World War II, when Riga was under Nazi occupation (1941-44), the prayer house and mortuary were burned down and the cemetery was designated part of the Jewish ghetto, into which local Jews were herded, prior being transported or executed in the Rumbula and Bikernieki killing fields, close to the city. Over 1000 Jews killed in the ghetto, including within the cemetery itself, were buried in mass graves in the cemetery, especially re-opened for the occasion.

The need for a Jewish cemetery at any point in history depended on attitudes to Jews at the time. Until the mid 1800s Jews were severely restricted in terms of living and/or working in the city and numbers never reached 1,000. By 1935 numbers had grown to around 44,000. When the Nazis left in 1944, Jews in Riga numbered 150.

Following Soviet occupation in 1944, the cemetery was partially desecrated with headstones and wall bricks being reused as building material.

What remained was left to deteriorate until the 1960s when the cemetery was razed and the Park of the Communist Brigades created. In 1992, post Latvian independence from the Soviet Union, the park was renamed to the Old Jewish Cemetery. Today the only evidence of its former use is a large stone Star of David, erected in the 1990s, and an explanatory plaque added in 2011. These are located at the north east corner of the park/cemetery.

Walking around the beautifully tended, though deserted, park/cemetery was a pleasant but eerie experience. I could not help thinking of its sad history and of how even the dead could not be left to rest in peace in Riga.

Getting there - closest tram stop - Balvu iela - tram numbers 3,7,9.


My Next Riga, Outside the Old City, Review

wabat's Profile Photo
wabat
Apr 08, 2016

Take a walk in the Moscow District

One of my best memories of Riga is the half day or so we spent wandering around the Moscow District (Maskavas forštate), also (or rather officially) called Latgale, and in so doing discovering one of the least-explored parts of Riga. The Moscow District, Riga’s first suburb outside the walled Old City, dates back to the 14th century though nothing of the medieval period remains to be seen to-day.

In terms of our walk, we took a number 7 tram from Central Market to the Balvu iela stop and, starting at the Old Jewish Cemetery, we meandered and zig-zagged our way back to Central Market.

The Moscow District was, and still is, a poorer, rumbustious working class area which takes it name from the fact that it lies along the road to Moscow. It was (in the main) and still is a cosmopolitan area where Russians, Latvians, Jews and Old Believers live together.

During their WWII occupation of the city, the Nazis immediately converted the major part of the Moscow District into a Jewish ghetto into which up to 30,000 Rigan Jews were forced, prior to their being burned alive in synagogues, slaughtered in the streets or marched, after they were no longer required for, or able for, hard labour, to the nearby Rumbula or Bikernieke forests and their deaths by firing squad. When the ghetto was finally abandoned in November 1943 the small number of Jews remaining therein were transferred to the Kaiserwald concentration camp outside of Riga or the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

By 1944 only around 250 Jews remained in Riga.

While the Old City and the other parts of Riga most often frequented by tourists have been tarted up, the Moscow District retains its shabbiness and air of neglect. This is exactly what makes it worth visiting. While most of the literature warns of the need to exercise special care in this area, ‘on the other side of the tracks’, I didn’t feel unsafe but I was certainly mindful of the environment and would recommend you visit it only during daylight hours.

I have written separate reviews on the following things, all worthy of a special look when you visit the area:

Old Jewish Cemetery
Grebenshchikov Old Believers Church
Riga Radio and TV Tower (as viewed from the Moscow District)
Horse Drawn Tram Sculpture
All Saints Orthodox Church
Great Choral Synagogue - Memorial
Žanis Lipke and other Latvians Memorial
Latgale Market
Riga Church of Jesus
Annunciation of Our Most Holy Lady Church
Latvian Academy of Sciences
Central Market

In addition to these specific sights the most rewarding aspect of visiting here was just meandering through the quiet cobble-stoned, character-filled streets admiring the mix of Soviet flats and 19th-century working-class wooden homes all in various stages of dilapidation and decay. Many parts of the area feel like a film set and indeed have been used as such on many occasions. The images attached to this review depict a small sample of the flats and houses we encountered in the Moscow District. I have added more photographs of the are in my travelogue - Moscow District - More Photos.

Had we had a bit more time I would like to have visited the old, now renovated, warehouses of the Spikeri Quarter and the Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum, in the area just to the rear of Central Market. Something for my next visit.

While most tourists will visit the colourful Central Market and the much unloved Latvian Academy of Sciences you will be well rewarded for any time you invest in venturing deeper into the Moscow District.


My Next Riga, Outside the Old City, Review

wabat's Profile Photo
wabat
Apr 08, 2016

Latgale

One morning in Riga Isabel and I took the number 7 tram (from opposite the Opera House) to the to-us fascinating district of Latgale, more usually known as Maskavas forštate or the Moscow District. This is a traditional working class area with a mixed population (Russian, Latvian, Jewish and more). The architecture is a mix of faded Art Nouveau grandeur and traditional 19th-century working-class wooden homes that seem quite rural in character and a little out of place so close to a city centre.

If you are so minded, there is quite a lot to see here – several churches (the Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, the Riga Church of Jesus and the Grebenshchikov Church), the remains of the Great Choral Synagogue (burned down, with worshippers still inside, by the Nazis when they cleared the Jewish ghetto that had been created in this area) and the unmissable Academy of Sciences building (see separate tip). But we had limited time and were content simply to wander and to take photos – lots of photos!

Unlike the Old Town, this part of the city has not been spruced up and some of the houses and apartment blocks are decidedly run-down. But they have a certain charm and it is easy to envisage that it may not be long before this area is "discovered" by artistic people or simply those on a tight budget who are willing to put in the work needed to create a lovely home here. Then it will all change and perhaps become fashionable, and as elsewhere, local families who may have lived here for several generations will be forced by rising prices and an unwelcome change in the atmosphere to move away.

For now though this is a place to come to see a different Riga - few tourists if any, but a photo around every corner and a rough-edged picturesqueness if you take the time to search it out. We spent a lovely hour wandering around taking photos of the old wooden buildings and architectural and other details. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring and photographing these streets and have added more photos to a separate travelogue if you wish to see them.

Next tip: the Academy of Sciences building

toonsarah's Profile Photo
toonsarah
Jun 11, 2014

Little Moscow District, Riga, Latvia.

I would recommend checking out the central market. It opens everyday from 8am until about 5pm and you can find locals shopping in large zepplin hangers and also little market stalls buying everything from smoked fish to pigs ears and beyond!

A little behind the market you will find the science academy, also know as stalin's wedding cake. You can take a trip back to the soviet era and enter the building and also visit the observation deck and see a marvellous view of the city. You can find it on Turgeòeva Iela.

A little beyond the science academy is the Black Market, if your bike is stolen in Riga you can generally go here and buy it back... ha! The market has everything and anything including soviet items and basically any wierd little thing you can think of that no one would want! You will find the market on Firsa Sadovòikova Iela.

This area is safe during the day but is best to avoid during the night times. If you are a keen photographer Little Moscow will provide the potential for some amazing shots.

jlf_1980
Mar 02, 2010
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"A Turbulent Past Left Behind?"
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"A liveable city"
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The Moscow District

The Moscow District is another district that is worth a stroll around, Apart from The Central Market (Covered in my shopping tips) with the Zeppelin Hangers there are also a few more interesting buildings like "The Academy of Sciences" that are worth a look.

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into-thin-air
Nov 10, 2006

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