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Riigist Galerii Kus peatuda?

Latvia is a land of forests and Baltic Sea coast. The country only really has one metropolis – the capital Riga, which is the centre of all economical, cultural and political life. This, however, is more of a plus than a minus, as in the rest of the country everyone can find as much space as one could ever need or want, despite Latvia being a small country.

Over the ages, being under the influence of bigger states, Latvia created its own unique identity, whose essence is the cohabitation of different cultures and peoples. The capital Riga symbolises this best, which was the first of all Baltic capitals to attract large numbers of tourists from the West after the states got their independence. Cultural events, concerts, processions and festivals are always taking place here. At the weekend during the summer evenings, the city roars with noise from the bars and clubs. Riga is famous for its churches and modern buildings, which put it on the UNESCO world heritage list.

As nice as Riga is, Latvia‘s real treasure is its nature, so much of which remains untouched. The Gauja national park, which is painted an array of colours by the leaves in Autumn, is well worth visiting. In the Turaida reserve and museum stands a castle and an array of archaeological, architectural, historical and artistical objects, which reflect 1000 years of Latvian history.

Latvia is also home to many small and cosy towns, which each have their own renovated courtyards and castles. One of them is Rundāle Palace, with gardens and facades reminiscent of Versailles.

The cities Kuldīga, Cēsis, Ventspils and Liepāja are all interesting for their history, and all are surrounded by lush forests, beautiful lakes or coast. The most famous coastal resort is Jūrmala. Situated not far from Riga, the town attracts abundances of tourists from the cities and neighbouring countries, and, thanks to the entertainment, spas, and other health services, the town doesn‘t lack visitors even in the winter.

Latvia – just like its two Baltic neighbours – greatly suffered from the Soviet occupation. Despite this, a quarter of a century having passed since it declared its independence, it resembles more and more a Scandinavian country, and lives a Nordic way of life. Ferries go between Riga and Stockholm, so you can compare the two cities for yourself during one trip.

For those interested in cuisine, traditional Latvian dishes are well worth tasting. The culinary tradition is typically Northern European and dominated by dairy products, pork, potatoes, foods made from corn and rye, beans and peas. Especially tasty are Latvian cottage cheeses and black bread. Herring, cold borsch (beetroot soup with gherkins and kefir), meatballs and various fried chops of meat make up most of the Latvian menu.

Latvian sweets are also well worth a try, some of the most famous of which are small chocolate-covered sweet cheese bars, and caramel biscuits which melt in one‘s mouth. And one traditional liqueur is the herb-loaded Riga balsam.

As in all the Baltic countries, Latvians like to go to the forest and pick berries, herbs and mushrooms. Those who would like to learn how to correctly pick and prepare these forest goods would do well to befriend a local and ask him to show them around the best spots. And after mushrooming, nothing beats relaxing in a hot sauna on the edge of a clear lake.

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