Unveiling Riga’s secrets

Unveiling Riga’s secrets
04 October 2023

Everyone knows that Riga is famous for its balsam or its Song and Dance Festivals, but did you know that Riga also holds primacy when it comes to the Christmas tree? If you follow our blog, you might be already familiar with Riga’s history and culture, but have you ever looked into some fairly useless but still interesting details about the Latvian capital? As a proper traveler and student, we are sure that you probably memorized Wikipedia and Travel Advisor and are fairly confident about your Riga expertise. However, we decided to test your knowledge with the list of 7 things you probably did know about Riga.

Christmas Tree

Although the small Baltic countries cannot take pride in many primacies, there are several that are simply cute. For instance, the region was influenced by German traditions, including the Christmas tree, due to the German conquest of the Latvian land. While the first Christmas tree appeared in Tallinn, Estonia, in 1515, the first decorated Christmas tree was recorded in Riga.

European Union’s tallest TV tower

Currently one of the most dominant symbols of the city, the TV tower can be seen from around Riga and belongs to one of the city’s most visited landmarks. The tower was built in 1989 and is 368 meters tall. Arguably, it is the tallest TV tower in the European Union, but only for a few days a year because Riga’s TV tower reaches the same height as the Berlin Television Tower, completed in 1969. In this case, global warming and heat waves help the metallic tower to expand, and eventually, Riga’s tower beats its German counterpart each year by 3 centimeters.

Latvia has one of the most high-speed internet access

You might have already noticed that you are anywhere in Riga, and your connection will still hold strong. Well, that is because Latvia belongs among the top 5 countries in the EU with the highest speed of Internet. Thus, for someone like me coming from the Czech Republic, which is nearly at the bottom, this is a very convenient surprise.

Upcycled Zeppelin halls

Most of you already wandered to the Central Market to appreciate local products and the buzzing atmosphere. But did you know where the giant halls sheltering the Market come from? After the end of WWI, Germany faced economic collapse and hence started to sell anything possible, including infrastructure. At that time, Riga made the right move and bought the Zeppelin halls from Germany and rebuilt it to the Market we all know today. Opened in the 1930s, Riga’s Central Market became one of the biggest of its kind and even today attracts locals and tourists from all over the world.

How often was Riga occupied?

Those who have already paid a visit to the Museum of Occupation probably know that occupation inherently belongs to the identity of Latvia. However, it seems that Riga was occupied every 100 or 200 years, which speaks only for the city’s historical importance. The lands of today’s Latvia were occupied for the first time during the German crusades in 1201, bringing Christianity to the region. They then ruled for 200 years with the Hanseatic League before Poland and Lithuania took over as a Catholic union. In the 1600s, the Swedes conquered and stayed for a century. In 1710, Tsar Peter the Great started ruling, and Latvia was part of the Russian Empire until 1914. In 1918, it declared its independence. It did not last for long, as in 1940, the Soviets took over until 1990, except for 1941-1944, when Latvia was occupied by Nazi Germany. In 1990, Latvia finally became independent.

Of course, there are more secrets about Riga, but hopefully, you learned something new here!

Anna

This blog was brought to you by Anna, currently studying Russian at Liden and Denz in Riga

The image was taken from Unsplash

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