Riga, Latvia

According to abbreviationfinder, Riga is the capital of Latvia, spanned at the mouth of a plurality of bridges (including the cable-stayed bridge “Large Harp”) Düna in the Gulf of Riga the Baltic Sea, (2019) 632 600 residents (of which about 38% Russian, further Ukrainian and Belarus Minority).

Riga extends over 307 km 2in the partly marshy coastal plain, 1.5 to 28 m above sea level. It is not only by far the largest city in the country, but also the only major city in Latvia. Riga is the political, economic, scientific, cultural and religious center (seat of the Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia and the Catholic Archbishop). The city is the location of the Latvian Academy of Sciences with a nuclear research center in Salaspils southeast of Riga (here also a concentration camp memorial) as well as other academy institutes, university (founded in 1919), technical university, medical university, conservatory and numerous other universities. There are several libraries (with a national library; the new building opened in 2014) and around 40 larger museums, several theaters (including the National Theater, Goethe Institute, radio and television station (368 m high television tower). Every five years, Riga hosts the Latvian Song Festival.


The historic city center, which was badly damaged in the Second World War, was largely rebuilt, including the controversial redesign of the former Town Hall Square into the Square of the Latvian Riflemen (Old Town of Riga, UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997). St. Mary’s Cathedral, a late Romanesque brick building with a square tower (started in 1215, rebuilt several times, restored after fire in 1595); the St. Petri Church (13th century, converted into a basilica from 1407 based on the model of north German churches; west facade and tower 17th / 18th century) and the castle of the Teutonic Order (started around 1330, rebuilt several times; today the seat of the Latvian Presidents and partly museum) represent the forces at work in medieval Riga, bishop, city citizen and knighthood.

The Sankt-Jacobi-Kirche (13th – 15th centuries), the Sankt-Johannis-Kirche (14th – 16th centuries), the »House of the Blackheads« (1334, rebuilt several times, now completely rebuilt after being destroyed in the war), the baroque one Town hall (1750–65) as well as other Renaissance and Baroque buildings (Dannensternhaus, etc.) bear witness to the importance of Riga, among others as the second largest city in Sweden and as the center of the Riga governorate. Fortified town until 1856, in the 1860s and 70s the city canal and boulevard arch were built in place of the old fortifications, and around 1900 a remarkable Art Nouveau district (including Alberta iela and Elezabetes iela, with houses by Michail Eisenstein) in another half-ring). With the modernization of the port, airport and other public buildings (including the station building, 1957–66; Hotel “Rīdzene”, 1979–84), new urban accents were set. An example of modern architecture is the Latvian National Library (opened in 2014; architect Gunnar Birkerts). A Jewish memorial was set up on the site of the synagogue that burned down on July 4, 1941 (foundations uncovered in 1992) behind the central market (1930) and the Jesus Church (1818–22).


More than 50% of Latvian industrial production is generated in and around Riga. The most important industrial sectors are vehicle and wagon construction, equipment construction (communications, household and precision engineering equipment), the chemical, pharmaceutical and woodworking industries, as well as the automotive, textile, clothing and food industries. During the 1990s there was a strong structural change in the economy, the service sector developed very dynamically (trade, banks, business-oriented services). Foreign companies set up their branches in Riga. Tourism experienced a noticeable upswing. The city center changed with the expansion of upscale retail and office use.

Riga is the most important logistical center and the most important transport hub in Latvia with a fishing port and the second largest Baltic sea port (cargo throughput in 2017: 33.7 million t). The international airport, the largest in the Baltic States, is located on the western periphery of the city. On the left bank of the Daugava river at its mouth in the Gulf of Riga to Riga is old outer harbor, the current district Daugavgriva (German Dünamünde) west of Riga, the seaside resort of Jurmala.


Merchants from Bremen have been visiting the area around Riga since the 12th century; Missionary work began here in 1186. Riga was founded in 1201 by Albert I von Buxhövden, Bishop of Livonia, who came from Bremen, on the site of an older settlement (10th / 11th century); from 1255 it was the seat of the archbishopric. It joined the Hanseatic League in 1282 and soon gained great importance as a center of trade with Lithuania and Russia. After the fall of the Livonian religious order (1561) a free city, it came under Polish rule in 1581, Sweden in 1621 and Russia in 1710 (from 1714 center of the Riga governorate, from 1796 the governorate of Livonia).

In 1918, Riga became the capital of Latvia (1940-91 of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic). During the Second World War, German troops conquered the city on July 1, 1941 (center of the “Reichskommissariat Ostland”); A ghetto was established in a suburb of Riga (murder of a large part of the city’s Jewish population and the Jews deported here from the German Reich, ghetto liquidation in 1943). On October 13, 1944, Soviet troops occupied the city. Riga became the center of the Latvian independence movement (Latvia, history) during the 1980s.

The Peace of Riga (March 18, 1921) between Poland and Soviet Russia ended the Polish-Soviet War (1920-21) and established the borders on both sides.

Riga, Latvia