Pritam Rohila Travels

Reports of my travels along with some pictures

Oct 20, 2013


We started our tour of Old Town of Riga from near the Museum of Occupation, one of the few signs of the Soviet occupation, in mostly reconstructed area since liberation.
Museum of Occupation, Riga

Housed in a Soviet bunker, it has exhibits relating to the suffering of Latvians during the Nazi and Soviet occupation between 1940 and 1991. Thousands of them had been deported to the gulags.

Nearby, in the Town Hall Square, is the 2001 reconstruction of the 14th century Blackheads’ House, a fraternity house of unmarried German merchants. In front of stands a statue of Roland, a symbol of free medieval cities of the Hanseatic League.

Blackheads' House, Riga

Across the square is the Town Hall, a 2003 replica of the original building destroyed during the WWII.

Town Hall, Riga

After leaving the Town Hall square, we walked through a narrow street to St. Peters Lutheran Church. Demolished during the WWII, its restoration was completed in 1983. Its tower dominates Riga’s skyline. The clock has only hand and plays the tune of a Latvian folksong five times a day.

St. Peters Lutheran Church, Riga

Going through a few more streets and alleyways, we then reached Dome Cathedral. Originally built in the 13th century, and added-on and modified several times over the next five centuries, it is the largest church in the Baltic and the seat of Riga and Latvia Archbishop.

Dome Cathedral, Riga

Riga was fortunate to escape as much destruction in WWII as some other places. Therefore, old and new style buildings stand here side by side. At some places neighbor houses span centuries.

An example is three houses known as “Three Brothers.” Built over 15 to 18 the centuries, roofs of all are in the basic stepped-gable style, characteristic of the Netherland. But their façade reflect significant variations peculiar to the time that each one was built.

"Three Brothers", Riga

Our next destination was the Riga Castle. Located in a corner of Old Town, near the Daugava River is Riga Castle, currently the official residence of the Latvia’s President. Also it houses the Museum of Latvian History.

Riga Castle, Riga

Here we boarded our bus to return to our hotel. On the way we stopped by the Riga’s Freedom Monument. Standing between the Old and Central Riga, it is topped by the statue of a female holding three stars in her raised hands. The stars represent three original cultural regions of Latvia.  

During the Soviet Occupation, the Freedom Monument was off-limits to Latvians, and placing flowers at its base was a crime for which people were deported to Siberia. Latvian independence movement started here on 14 June 1987, when 5000 people rallied illegally to commemorate the victims of Stalin's deportations.

Freedom Movement, Riga
Freedom Movement, Riga

After lunch at our hotel, I decided to stay in our room, while my wife went out with some of the fellow travelers to explore more of the city.

In the evening we had dinner at a traditional restaurant located in the cellar of an old building, in the Old Town.

Site of Our Dinner, Riga

Dinner, Riga

On the way, walking through pedestrian-only squares and streets, we passed by peaceful demonstration consisting of several statues of sleeping babies, and some businesses.

A Square, Riga
A Street, Riga

Sleeping Babies Demonstration, Riga

On the way back, we lost one of our fellow travelers. In the dim light and a rainy night, he mistook some ladies with umbrellas, to be members of our group, and started following them.

Market Square, Riga at Night & in Rain

Only after several blocks, he realized that he had been walking in the wrong direction. Fortunately, about half-hour later, he found his way back to the hotel, where we and his wife waited for him. Of course we all were relieved at their joyful reunion. 

Next morning we were to leave for Tallinn, Estonia.


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