Sabile is located in the most beautiful and deepest part of the ancient valley of the River Abava. In 1253, Sabile was first mentioned in written documents. Approximately in the 13th-14th century traders and craftsmen formed a village in this place.
The symbol of Sabile is Wine Hill – a vineyard occupying an area of 1.5 ha and mentioned in the Guiness Book of World Records as the world's northernmost open-air vineyard. Even Sabile’s coat of arms bears a cluster of grapes. Therefore every year during the last week of July Sabile celebrates the Wine Festival that has already become a tradition and the only and unique opportunity to taste the real wine from Sabile Wine Hill.
The historical centre of Talsi is situated between Lake Talsi and Lake Vilkmuiza including the ancient streets - Ūdens street and Kalēju street, Dzirnavu street, Kalna street and part of Laidze street and Lielā street.
Today the King’s Hill (Ķēniņkalns) – one of the places where the dreams of Talsi inhabitants come true – has gained a new meaning and importance. During the times of the first free state of Latvia the town of Talsi ordered the sculptor Karlis Zemdegs a sculpture named "Koklētājs" – in dedication to heroes - freedom fighters.
Every city has its own charm, spirit and life sweep, its own past, present and future.
In Talsi everything is nearby and close, twisted in a colourful picture. Nine hills and both lakes cherish the history of many centuries.
Nine hills – Castle hill (Pilskalns), King’s hill (Ķēniņkalns), Leci hill (Leču kalns) , Tiguli hill (Tiguļu kalns), Sun hill (Sauleskalns), Church Hill (Baznīckalns), Krievragkalns, Vilkmuizas hill, Dzirnavkalns –generate specific characteristic building and landscape you may find only in Talsi. The most beautiful season in Talsi comes when cherry trees and apple trees bloom. The most welcome celebrations are the City Festival in the first week of July, the renewed Dizmaras fair at the end of August, the rally racing in May, Art Days in April-May, Poetry days in September and some other activities.
Recreational park Rāmkalni is located not far from Riga, offering a wide choice of active recreation opportunities – rodel track, boat rental, bicycle rental, and other services. The mountain skiing track is open in the winter. Rāmkalni also offers delicious meals at its restaurant and bistro.
Recreational park Rāmkalni is located at Valmiera Highway, 40 kilometers from Riga. It takes less than an hour to get there by car. Rāmkalni is located right next to the highway, which means no problems with parking your car. Rāmkalni lies in a picturesque place, in the territory of the Gauja National Park.
Leisure and active recreation opportunities
In winter, everyone is invited to Rāmkalni for mountain skiing and snowboarding. The track is 200 meters long, featuring two anchor-type ski lifts. Equipment is available for rent and professional instruction service is also provided.
During summer, Rāmkalni offers visitors opportunity to go on a boat ride down the Gauja River, or go on bicycle trips along tracks maintained by the park. Visitors can also run down a track in a specially-designed sledge - rodel. Those brave enough may want to try out the Crazy Roller, while children can learn how to drive at the Children's Driving School, bounce in the Fun Bungee, and go up in the air with the Flying Chair.
Rāmkalni also offers the opportunity to participate in team-building events and seminars.
Rāmkalni restaurant and bistro serve delicious meals. The food is mostly made using locally-sourced ingredients. A major emphasis is on organic products. And Rāmkalni pastry shop sells all kinds of muffins and cakes.
Rāmkalni produces candied fruit, pastilles, and syrups. Smoked chicken meat, home-made ice-cream, and dumplings are also available. These and many other goods can be bought at the Rāmkalni shop.Riga, Latvia
‘Laima’ is the biggest and most well-known producer of chocolate and sweets in the Baltic, where chocolate is made with cocoa beans without using semi-prepared products. The method was introduced in 1870 by factory founder Teodors Rigerts. The Laima chocolate museum welcomes, treats and inspires its visitors. Laima tells, shows and involves!
To Laima, love is the greatest treasure - the secret ingredient in its unique taste and flavour. Since 1870, Laima’s confectioners have converted cocoa beans into chocolate that has no equal in the world.
Life is full of secrets. One of them is how to make chocolate. In the Laima chocolate museum visitors will discover the secrets of making chocolate, find out how cocoa beans are used to make Laima’s chocolate and other delicacies and become true confectioners by making their own chocolate bar.
The museum also contains the famous Laima clock - the symbol of love, the joy of meeting and new beginning. Take a picture and find it on the Laima clock.
In each one of us there is a confectioner, so take your loved ones by the hand and get lost in the genuine wonder of chocolate-making. The chocolate workshop will appeal to both children and parents... The workshop is available if booked in advance.
Everyone is welcome at the Laima chocolate museum. The exposition is adapted for the disabled, so that everyone can enjoy the wonders of the world of chocolate.Riga, Latvia
Riga's White House — the Latvian National Opera on Aspazijas bulvāris was opened in 1923; an average of six new productions are presented each year, retaining balance between opera and ballet. In total, the opera sees over 200 performances and several symphonic and chamber music concerts a season.
The very beginning of opera performances in Latvia can be traced back to the 18th century when first musical shows were staged in the Duchy of Courland and the first travelling opera troupes appeared in Riga. In 1782, Town German Theatre was opened where drama theatre, opera and ballet performances were held, also the famous German composer Richard Wagner worked there for a few years.
The origin of Latvian opera dates back to 1912, with establishing of Latvian opera under Pāvuls Jurjāns; however, the Latvian National Opera troupe first performed with Richard Wagner's “The Flying Dutchman” in the present Opera House only on January 23, 1919.
In the 1990s, the opera house underwent large-scale reconstruction and restoration of the interior, highlighting the original decorations and matching the new interior of premises to them. The construction was finished in 2001, when new complex building for technical and creative staff and the New Hall with 300 seats for realisation of wide range art projects were finished.Riga, Latvia
The Freedom Monument has been Riga's central landmark for almost a century. This 42.7 m tall granite and copper work of art is a symbol of the Latvian nation's striving for freedom and independence. The woman on top of the monument is holding up three golden stars, which represent Latvia's historical regions of Kurzeme, Vidzeme, and Latgale. The motto "For the Fatherland and Freedom" is inscribed upon the base. It was unveiled on 18 November 1935 and financed entirely from public donations.
The Freedom Monument was erected according to the design by the outstanding Latvian sculptor Kārlis Zāle (1888–1942); he was also artist for the Memorial Ensemble at the Brethren Cemetery. Zāle's idea was implemented by architect Ernests Štālbergs (1883–1958); the construction lasted for four years.
The Freedom Monument is an architectural representation of the idea of freedom — the large-scale sculptures, arranged on several levels, depict significant events and personalities in the Latvian history.
Fifty six sculptures are arranged in thirteen groups on four levels. The base level of the monument symbolises the nation's work ethic, spiritual strength, and striving for independency. The front of the monument features two travertine reliefs "Latvian Riflemen" and "Latvian People: the Singers"; the other groups depict the Latvian basic values — "Work", "Guards of the Fatherland", "Mother — Family Guard", and "Scholars". On the sides, the travertine panels bear reference to the Russian Revolution of 1905 and Latvian War of Independence. The middle block symbolises the nation's ideals and striving for freedom — "Latvia" is ready to defend the Motherland, "Chain Breakers" try to break free from their chains, "Lāčplēsis" (an epic Latvian folk hero) encourages to fight against evil powers, while "Vaidelotis" (a Baltic pagan priest) symbolises spiritual strength.
The top of the marble obelisk is crowned by a woman hewed in copper. She is holding up three golden stars, which represent the unity of Latvia's historical regions.
During the Soviet occupation, any gathering at the Freedom Monument was strictly forbidden. But with the Reawakening, people gathered here to honour the establishment of the Republic of Latvia, War of Independence, occupation and repression. After Latvia's independence was restored in 1991, the honour guard was again deployed at the foot of the monument.Riga, Latvia
Three legendary musicians play their music on Skārņu Street between St. Peter's Church and the Convent Yard: a donkey, a dog, a cat and a cockerel standing on each other's backs. You can see surprise in the animals' eyes, but they are not staring at the robbers' feast; they are peering through the Iron Curtain!
The political monument "Bremen Town Musicians" was created by Bremen artist Krista Baumgaertel. The sculpture is based on a fairy tail by the Brothers Grimm, but created with a political subtext as it was inspired by Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika. The sculpture, a gift from Riga's sister city Bremen, was made in 1990. It's a humorous approach towards previous political stereotypes. The bronze figures are not staring through the window at the robbers' feast at a table full of drinks and food; they are peering through the Iron Curtain on a completely new world where they had thought to find a bone or a piece of meat. Come see the musicians - an ironic view at sudden independence.Riga, Latvia
It's hard to believe that the Square once was the site of the Riga River, which was a shipping route for transporting Latvian grain up to the 16th century. Later it was called the Rīdzene River and even Rīdziņa as it gradually became narrower. Today, along the old route of the river, pavement wears away the shoes of countless Rigans and visitors to the city, and beautiful flower-beds remind one of the past times.
Līvu Square is situated between Zirgu, Meistaru and Kaļķu iela. It was "built by" the World War II, when several buildings were destroyed. In 1950 a square named Philharmonic Square was set up here bringing new features to the city’s architecture. The concert hall of the Latvian Philharmonic has been known since 1941 as the Great Guild Hall housing musical performances also nowadays.
Līvu Square is also surrounded by the Small Guild, Cat House, and Riga Russian Drama Theatre. In summertime, the Square features outdoor cafes and beautiful flower-beds which are designed like waves to remind of the lost river after whom Riga was once named.
In wintertime, this Old Town square offers a skating rink. This is the place in Riga that never sleeps — like in the song about the New York City. Līvu Square is the centre of Riga's youthful life.Riga, Latvia
15 minutes away by foot, southward from the center of the Old Town of Riga, along the right bank of the Daugava, is a quarter gilded with a historical aura – Spikeri Quarter and its adjacent promenade, which are part of the territory of UNESCO Cultural Heritage – the historical center of the city of Riga.
Since the 14th century, Spikeri Quarter had a wharf for loading and unloading cargo ships. The location had several warehouses (Hanf - Ambaren or "hemp warehouse" in German).
The warehouse quarter or Spikeri Quarter was created in the second half of the 19th century, when the territory was covered with uniform warehouses. Designed in the 19thcentury by the best architects of the Baltic States, the simple but striking red brick buildings there are 150 years old.
As in many old industrial quarters in European cities, Spikeri Quarter, too, is home to the arts, restaurants, and offices. During the warm time of year, Spikeri Quarter offers a wide choice of open-air events, concerts, sporty activities, other and entertainment. Spikeri Quarter is an enterprising venue, as well as one of the "hottest" spots during the capital's large-scale happenings - White Night Festival, Riga City Festival, Night of Museums, Riga Restaurant Week, etc.
Dirty Deal Teatro is a place where the new filmmakers, choreographers, playwrights, and other new artists give the audience an original theater experience. By creating plays, the writers are looking for novel ways on how to communicate with the audience. For this reason, those, who arrive at "Dirty Deal Teatro" out of curiosity or habit, learn new ways how to perceive theater, how to think about it, how to feel it. (www.dirtydeal.lv/teatro/)
Spikeri is also home to the contemporary arts center known as "kim?", which stands for the perennial question: "What is art"? The center organizes contemporary art exhibitions, performances, lectures, and movie screenings. (www.kim.lv)
The quarters' pride is the Spikeri Concert Hall - a building used by the chamber orchestra "Sinfonietta Riga" and one of the greatest choirs in the world "The Latvian Radio Choir". The venue hosts concerts of varied genres and styles, as well as movie screenings. The concert hall often features chamber music which tends to stick to various unusual genres. The concert hall also hosts jazz nights and instrumental experiments. (www.sinfoniettariga.lv)
This quarter is also linked to some of the dark pages in the history of Latvia. During World War II, located here was the Riga ghetto, as the territory of Spiker Quarter is part of Riga's Moscow suburb, where the majority of residents were Russian merchants and Jews. You can find out more about this history at the Riga Ghetto Museum in Spikeri. (www.rgm.lv)
Improvement projects were finalized in the summer of 2013, and Daugava's riverside was turned into a promenade, which has now become popular for relaxing strolls, with a wonderful view of the Riga bridges and Old Town. Revitalization of Spikeri Quarter and the surrounding embankment is Riga's most significant public space project of past years.
Shopping and restaurants
Dali Café & Art - a place with the aura of bohemia whose interior features references to Salvador Dali's art.
The Georgian restaurant "Pirosmani" - for authentic Georgian cuisine.
Restaurant Garden - an opportunity to enjoy Latvia-grown products in unusual and creative combinations.
Store and bistro "Desa&Co" - offers natural products and food grown on the farm "Zemitani"
Latvijas Balzams outlet - products made by the largest alcohol producer in Latvia.Riga, Latvia
Opposite to the Old Riga on the left bank of the River Daugava stands the new building of the National Library of Latvia (LNB) — the Castle of Light — which is one of the most impressive culture buildings in Latvia over the past decades. The Castle of Light is intended as a multifunctional culture and education centre, repository of knowledge.
The LNB new building was designed in the 1990ies by Gunārs Birkerts — the most renowned and appreciated Latvian architect in the world. He has designed the Law Library Building at the University of Michigan and the Corning Museum of Glass that were both included in a list compiled by the American Institute of Architects of 150 of the all-time favourite buildings built in America.
The architect has intended that the LNB new building will reflect a hill of glass that has symbolic sense in the Latvian culture. The building has 13 floors that rise 68 m high.
The total area of the LNB building is divided into five zones — public area, readers' area, repository, employee and technical maintenance area. There will be conference and seminar rooms, a restaurant, reading-rooms, and other premises making the Castle of Light a culture centre of national importance.
Castle of Light was officially opened in June 2014.Riga, Latvia