Rundāle, the Baltic Versailles?
If you like a palace to be somewhat grandiose, testament to the rich family it once housed, come with me to Rundāle Palace in the Latvian countryside. Its 18th century splendour has been painstakingly restored and is in places almost overwhelming in its extravagance.
Introduction to some monuments in Riga
Riga was a city in which I quickly felt very comfortable. It has a compact old town with plenty to see but not too ‘aspic-like’; by which I mean that it felt both touristy and homely at the same time, somewhere I could imagine that the locals don’t feel too overwhelmed by the history and the visiting population. It is also a city of monuments.
Gallery: giant snails invading Riga!
On my first afternoon in Riga, as I sat with a coffee in the Livu Laukums, my eye was naturally drawn to the large bright yellow snail in one corner. Later that day I spotted a green one in the Ratslaukums and I was to come across several more during the course of my stay. What is more, these snails were on the move; slowly (as is normal for snails) they made their way around the city, each day a little further from their original starting place.
Gallery: meet the many cats of Riga
In the centre of Riga is an imposing house, which has come to symbolise the city. What would in any case be a grand Art Nouveau structure is made special by the presence of two large cats on the turrets at either end.
Gallery: the Art Nouveau gems of Riga
Art Nouveau, or Jugendstil as it is also known, was an art and architecture movement of the late 19th to early 20th centuries, at its height 1890–1910. As an artistic philosophy it proposed that art should be a way of life, and that everyday items could be beautiful too. It was inspired by nature – flowers, animals, natural forms. In the old buildings of Riga it is at times at its most flamboyant and exuberant.