Latvia may not be the first county you think of when planning a trip abroad but through serendipitous circumstances I ended up spending a week here in order to detox my mind and body. I spent the majority of the time on the outskirts of Riga with limited access to the internet and no phone signal which was a blessing in disguise. Wandering around the luscious forests I became more aware of our incessant connection with technology. As much as I feel it brings us together it has taken away the little necessities of life like a good conversation or contemplation. Any time I saw something of interest a little bit of my brain would go ‘you should share this with everyone’ and my arm naturally tried to reach for my pocket (for a deeper insight into this please read Andrew Sullivan’s amazing article ‘I Used to Be a Human Being‘). On my last day I had a few hours to kill in the capital Riga so thought it would be a shame not to indulge in my favourite hobby and put that itchy finger to good use.
Old Town Riga
It is generally recognised that Riga has the finest and the largest collection of art nouveau buildings in the world. This is due to the fact that at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, when Art Nouveau was at the height of its popularity, Riga experienced an unprecedented financial and demographic boom. In the period from 1857 to 1914 its population grew from 282,000 to 558,000 making it the 4th largest city in the Russian Empire (after Saint-Petersburg, Moscow and Warsaw) and its largest port (SOURCE).
The bourgeoisie of Riga used their wealth to build imposing apartment blocks around the former city walls. In that period around 800 Art Nouveau buildings were erected. With its narrow cobble-stone streets, Old Town features gorgeous buildings built in various architectural styles – Romanticism, Gothic, Mannerism, Baroque, Eclectic and Modernism to name a few.
One of my favourite places to stumble upon was the Latvian War museum (above). It was founded in 1916 as the Latvian riflemen museum and is one of the oldest and largest museums in Latvia. The vines that cover the tower change colour throughout the year which makes it a building that’s always in transition. A metaphor for the history contained within.
Like most cities I visit it felt like I only scratched the surface with regard to what Riga had to offer. One day is never enough to spend somewhere new but it does force you to get out there and explore. For anyone who is thinking of visiting Riga I suggest doing a little bit of research so the city surprises you throughout the trip. Booking an apartment through Airbnb would be ideal as you can walk around the city centre by day and indulge in the local culture by night. As a personal recommendation make sure to visit the Latvian National Opera or see the Dinamo Riga hockey club in action at the Arena Riga.
As a throwback to my Style Division days here’s what I wore during my trip. The temperature in Riga can get a little bit cold (it is a Baltic state after all!) so make sure to wear layers and grab a thick wooly scarf for good measure:
Thanks for reading my latest article. Give it a share using the links below so others can enjoy it too. For more check out my latest lookbook from Paris, street style from London Collections or my trip to the magical city of Coimbra.
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