Why you should visit the Latvian War Museum!
Situated right in the heart of Riga’s Old Town is a museum often overlooked by students and tourists alike. Founded in 1916 and dedicated to the experience and legacy of the Latvian military, the Latvian War Museum is the perfect place to develop your understanding of Latvian history in the context of war and occupation.
Its extensive exhibitions are housed in the Powder Tower, a fortification tower that has been in use since the 12th century, a testament to the region’s rich and complex military history. A casualty of the siege of Riga in 1621, the Tower was destroyed and later rebuilt, standing as a remainder of the city’s historic fortifications.
Here are some of the permanent exhibitions I recommend visiting!
Latvia and latvian soldiers in the 17th-18th century
An exhibition dedicated to the early modern history of Latvia’s military, the first part of the museum explores the effects of the Polish-Lithuanian-Swedish War of 1600-1629 and the Great Northern War of 1700-1721, as a result which much of Latvia came under Russian rule and Latvian men were drafted into the Russian Imperial army. Visitors are greeted with a model of the city’s historic fortifications and Koknese castle, as well as muskets, swords and cannons.
Latvians in World War I
The ‘most comprehensive historical exposition of the First World War in Latvia’, this area of the museum engages with the lived experience of the Latvian Riflemen in the First World War. The exhibition boasts a wide range of personal items and stories, such as postcards, photographs and diaries, alongside uniforms and weaponry used throughout the war.
Latvia in World War Two
In contrast to its neighbouring exhibitions, there is a focus here upon the human consequence of war and occupation as the exhibition explores the experiences of those victimised by both the Nazi and Soviet regimes, with original documents, personal effects and weapons. Most poignant are the photographs of the atrocities that took place throughout Riga.
This is the perfect place for students looking to explore the history of Latvia on a budget, with free entry to all visitors and a central location, not far from the Freedom Monument. If you’re looking for a more rounded understanding of Latvia’s history of war and occupation, I would also high recommend a visit to the Museum of Occupation!
Darcie Peters, a student at Liden and Denz.