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Latvia

Interesting facts

Latvia borders Estonia, Russia, Belarus, and Lithuania. It is situated on a trading crossroads and has long since served as a bridge between Western Europe and Russia.

Riga is architecturally considered to be the Jugendstil capital of the world. Latvian architects are responsible for designing over 60% of the distinctive Art Nouveau style buildings made famous in the early 1900’s.

Nearly one-third of Latvia’s population lives in the capital Riga. Riga, the oldest existing medieval city, was founded in 1201. Riga has been included in UNESCO’s list of the world’s most important cultural and natural sites.

Latvia’s landscape is marked by lowland plains, rolling hills, thousands of rivers and lakes and thus considered one of the greenest countries in Europe. Forests cover 44 percent of the territory, and most of the countryside is less than 100 meters above sea level.

Latvia is home to the widest waterfall in Europe: Ventas Rumba, at 110 m (360 ft) wide, though only 2 m high.

Peter’s Church is one of the oldest and most valuable monuments of medieval architecture in the Baltic States. It is located in the historical centre of Riga and on 4 December 1997 was included among the UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Gauja National Park is the most popular tourist destination in Latvia. Its first visitors were hiking in the Sigulda area with walking-sticks as far back as in the 19th century and the evidence of this is the engravings left by them on the sandstone walls of the caves.

The Rundale Palace ensamble, one of the most outstanding monuments of Baroque and Rococo architecture in Latvia, was built between 1736 and 1740 as a summer residence for Ernst Johann Biron, Duke of Courland and a favourite of the Russian Empress Anna Ioannovna. The palace was designed by the Russian court architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli and built under his supervision.

Turaida Museum Reserve is located 50 km from Riga and is known for its beautiful surroundings and history. The name Turaida means “God’s garden” in the language of the ancient inhabitants, the Livonians. In 1996, the museum was named one of the European Museums of the Year.

The Latvian Open-Air Ethnographic Museum is one of the oldest and largest open-air museums in Europe. 118 old buildings from all historical districts of Latvia – Kurzeme, Vidzeme, Zemgale and Latgale – built from the end of the 17th century up to the second half of the 1930s have been relocated, reconstructed and furnished.

 

 
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