Lithuanian National Museum, Vilnius

You can for sure spend months in the Baltic states to enjoy the beautiful landscape. But they are gives you also the chance to easily visit three countries in one week: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. And it is not one homogenous area without differences – that can easily be observed in the capital cities: Tallinn with its wonderful old city fortifications, Rīga with its fantastic art nouveau quarter and Vilnius with its nice baroque style buildings and more than 50 churches.

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Rundāle palace

Rundāles pils, Latvia

Somewhere in rural Latvia, not far away from the border to Lithuania you can find an impressive castle in baroque style: Rundāles pils, the Rundāle palace. It was designed with Versailles in mind and also has a french landscape garden – it is therefore often referred to as the Versailles of the Baltics. The palace was built between 1735 and 1740 by the order of empress Anna of Russia.

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Aiz šiem vārtiem vaid zeme

Concentration camp, Salaspils

In 1941 Latvia was occupied by Nazi Germany and a forced labour camp was created at Salaspils – 18 kilometers south of Rīga. Captives were intended to do peat cutting and the Nazis wanted to detain Jewish people here. The camp was built by Soviet prisoners of war and Jews mostly from the ghetto of Rīga – and it was used mostly for political prisoners and deserted soldiers. But what really happened here remains unclear because of insufficient research and political motives.

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Railway station, Rīga

The Latvian language belongs to the balto-slavic branch of the Indo-European languages. It is therefore totally different to Estonian (which is a Finno-Ugric language), but rather close to Lithuanian (but locals say they can’t understand each other fully without learning the other language). It is spoken by around 1.7 million people.

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Monte Kristo

Hotel Monte Kristo, Rīga

The owners of the hotel Monte Kristo at Rīga, Latvia must be fans of the adventure novel ‘The Count of Monte Cristo‘ by Alexandre Dumas. The hotel looks pretty ancient, everywhere you can see paintings of ships and harbours and in the corridors there are barrels and trading sacks. Even though you won’t see much of the Baltic sea during your visit you’ll at least have maritime flair.

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Art nouveau

Art nouveau, Rīga

If there is only one thing that you would remember about Rīga, Latvia – then it would be art nouveau. There is a complete quarter full of houses in this wonderful style (located in Elizabetes iela, Alberta iela and Strēlnieku iela) and that is the reason why the city is a UNESCO world heritage site. But you will find also other fantastic architectural styles throughout the city – within the city center you overlook buildings like the old exchange, the house with the cat on the roof, the opera or the academy of sciences.

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Majori, Jūrmala

If you’re at Rīga, Latvia and want to see the Baltic sea you need to travel a bit. In contrast to Tallinn, Estonia the city center is some kilometers afar from the shore. The best place for that is the city of Jūrmala and the most famous place there along the shore is Majori (in German ‘Majorenhof‘). It is located on a languet between the Baltic sea and the river Lielupe which forms a beautiful landscape.

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Botāniskais dārzs

Botanical garden, Rīga

I like visiting botanical gardens while travelling around the world. It’s about relaxation, having a nice walk through a park, seeing wonderful plants and often the chance to have a look at exotic plants in greenhouses. The botanical garden (botāniskais dārzs) of Rīga, Latvia offers all of these, but has another nice feature: a house full of butterflies. There you can walk around in tropical atmosphere and watch those beautiful animals.

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