Our first full day in Riga began with – you guessed it – a tour of the town! We started in the Art Nouveau section of town, where the architecture of the buildings evokes the late 19th century style. There were many gargoyles and floral designs to behold among the brightly colored tenements!
Next, we headed toward Old Town, the center of Riga, where we found the House of the Blackheads. This massive structure was home to the Brotherhood of Blackheads, a merchant’s guild. An interesting bit of trivia – these merchants were Germans who settled in the area, and there is a plaque in the square that, according to legend, marks the spot of the very first Christmas tree ever!
As we wandered the medieval buildings and cobblestone streets, we found ourselves circling around the same site – St. Peter’s Church, a massive Lutheran church that dates in part back to the 13th century. The tower is over 123 meters (403 feet) tall and is open to those willing to pay a fee for a grand view of the city from 72 meters up.
After a brief break for lunch, we took yet another tour – this time, we had the opportunity to go behind the scenes of the Latvian National Opera House. Built in 1863, this elegant space hosts both opera and ballet performances from the Latvian National Opera. Many talented musicians and dancers have graced its stage, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, who hails from Riga. And, now, Women’s Voices Chorus can be added to the list of performers who have stood and sung on that giant stage! To see our video, please follow this link to our Facebook page – once we are back in the states, we will embed it here directly!
Stay tuned for more updates from Riga and Tallinn as our tour winds down!