Explore the Hanseatic city Riga
Riga Festival

Riga was officially founded by the German Bishop Albert in 1201, though the area was populated already long before that. Rigans themselves  originated from the ancestors of the Latvian people who settled here in the 11th and 12th centuries.  During the Middle Ages Riga was a mighty seaport, the largest city in the Swedish Empire during the 17th century, a leading port for the Russian Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries, and a powerhouse centre for commerce and trade in the entire region.

This status was facilitated by Riga’s membership in the Medieval Hanseatic League. In the Middle Ages Riga was one of the most developed cities in the Hanseatic League, and is still active in the International Modern Alliance of Hanseatic cities. The Hanseatic days are remembered in Old Riga through the historical Great Guild and Small Guild, as well as the rebuilt House of the Blackheads – all of them artisans’ and craftsmen’s guilds in the booming city. The House of Blackheads was built in 1334  as a meeting and celebration hall, but a mostly German brotherhood of foreign merchants called the Blackheads bought the building in the 17th century.  Since 1999 Rigans can again be proud of their newly reborn House of Blackheads.

Riga Castle – the largest and best preserved medieval castle in northern Europe invites you to take a walk along its cobbled streets. The Dome Cathedral is the largest church in northern Europe and has the largest working organ in Europe with 6718 wooden and metal pipes and 124 registers. The so called Three Brothers, the oldest buildings in Riga, have weathered many centuries but are still inhabited. The old centre of Riga always provides a personal and unique experience to each visitor.

According to some historians, Riga was the first place a decorated Christmas tree was ever displayed. In 1510 a few Riga merchants decorated a fir tree in honour of the birth of Christ. Gradually the tradition gained momentum and spread throughout the world. So, whenever you see a Christmas tree, remember that the tradition began in Riga.

Riga is called the Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) capital of Europe. The development of this style in the 19th and 20th centuries coincided with a construction boom and the economic upswing of Riga. The most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings are located in the “Quiet Centre” of Riga.

Riga’s historic centre covers 1.43% of the total area of the city, it contains 5458 buildings, almost one third of which are built in Art Nouveau style. 

In 1997 the historic centre of Riga was named “a world-class masterpiece of creative genius” and granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status. 

More than eight hundred years of rich history have built this beautiful, inspiring and multi- lingual city. Today Riga is one of the largest centres of economic development and transactions in the region. It is a dynamic leader in everything, from modern architecture to business to the pace of everyday life. 

Riga has long been a place for people to meet, share viewpoints  and make important decisions as well as to feel the atmosphere of personal freedom and global thinking.

Our city „called the Heart of Baltics” is a modern European metropolis with a rich cultural and historical heritage which is evident in the city`s architecture, cultural life and with a great potential for fast development and active cooperation with other cities all over the world.

Pictures of the Hanseatic City of Riga


Riga Tourism Development Bureau
Legal address: Ratslaukums 1
Riga, LV-1050