History of Latvia
Before traveling to Latvia and Riga it is worth to getting to know the history of the country. The territory known today as Latvia has been inhabited since 9000 BC. The famous route from the Vikings to the Greeks’ mentioned in ancient chronicles stretched from Scandinavia, through Latvian territory along the river Daugava to ancient Russia and the Byzantine Empire.
In the AD 900s, the ancient Balts began to establish definable tribal realms. In the spring of 1200, twenty-three ships and five hundred armed German soldiers were hired to assist the Christian missionaries in a campaign to forcibly convert the people of the region. In 1201 Bishop Albert began building the city of Riga.
After the so-called Livonian War (1558-1583) — Latvian territories came under Polish-Lithuanian rule. The Lutheran Reformation and Catholic Counter Reformation in Livonia stimulated the consolidation of the Latvian nation and the first books in the Latvian language were published.
In the 1600s, the Duchy of Courland, once a part of Livonia, experienced a notable economic boom. The most successful ruler Duke Jacob Kettler (1610-1682) established two colonies: an island in the estuary of the Gambia River in Africa and Tobago Island in the Caribbean Sea. In 1621, during the Polish-Swedish war (1600-1629), Latgale remained under Polish control, but Vidzeme and Riga came under Swedish rule. Riga was economically and culturally part of a growing urban network linking the major states and cultures of Western, Eastern and Northern Europe.
Awareness of the Latvian identity began in the 17th century. The Couronians, Latgallians, Selonians, Semigallians and part of the Livs began to identify as a culturally unified nation — the Latvians. In 1710, the Russian Tsar, Peter I, conquered Vidzeme. By the end of the 18th century, all of Latvia’s territory was under Russian rule — Courland became part of the Russian Empire in 1795. Selfdom was abolished in Vidzeme in 1817, in Kurzeme in 1819, and in Latgale in 1861.
In the mid-19th century, with the rise of national consciousness throughout Europe, ethnic Latvians experienced a powerful ‘awakening’ of national identity. The first newspapers in the Latvian language were printed and the first Latvian National Song Festival was held in 1873 — the beginning of a tradition with strong national overtones.
Latvia was introduced to Marxism in the 1890s, which was propagated by a socialist movement New Current. The New Current is considered the predecessor of the Latvian Social Democrats. The party turned against the existing social order in the Baltic provinces of the Russian Empire. On 13 January 1905, the LSDSP declared a general strike. About 20,000 factory workers participated in a demonstration on the streets of Riga. During this revolution several nationally oriented Latvian Social Democrats publicly called for an independent state — Latvia.
By October 1915 German armed forces had occupied all of Kurzeme. Immediately after Kurzeme came under German control Latvian social and political activists conceived the notion of founding Latvian military units in the Russian armed forces. The Germans occupied the remainder of Latvian territory in February of 1918. After the Russian-German peace treaty was signed on March 3 in Brest-Litowsk, Germany kept Kurzeme and Vidzeme, while Latgale was kept under Russian control.
In September 1917 in German-occupied Riga Latvian parties joined together in a coalition – the "Democratic Bloc". At the beginning of December Latvian organisations had finished forming the Latvian Provisional National Council (LPNC), which became the most extensive representative institution of the Latvian people. On January 30, 1918, the LPNC decided to establish sovereign and democratic Latvia, which would encompass all Latvian-inhabited regions.
On November 11, 1918, Germany was compelled to sign an armistice, which was an exceptionally good opportunity to realise the idea of Latvian independence. The LPNC and the "Democratic Bloc" agreed to jointly form a provisional parliament, the Latvian People's Council (LPC), which on November 18, 1918 resolved to found an independent and democratic Republic of Latvia.
Since the end of 1918 the existence of the newly-established government of independent Latvia was being attacked by the Russian Red Army and German-oriented political regime. With help from the Estonians, the Latvian national armed forces gained victory over the Germans on June 23, 1919 and by November 11 the Germans were driven out of Riga and by the end of November from Latvian territory. On August 11, 1920, Latvia signed a peace treaty with Soviet Russia, in which Russia acknowledged Latvia's sovereignty and withdrew from claims to Latvian territory for all times. On January 26, 1921, the victors of World War I recognised Latvia's independence de jure.
The revival of the economy became the main task of Latvia. The Latvian national monetary unit, the Lats, was issued in 1922 and the state began to implement the Agrarian Reform. Latvian industry was oriented chiefly toward food production, textile manufacturing, timber processing, radio, cameras, aeroplane, automobile and truck manufacturing. In the 1930s Latvia achieved one of the highest standards of living in Europe.
On August 23, 1939, the Soviet Union and German Third Reich signed a treaty of non-aggression, which contained a secret protocol concerning the division of Eastern Europe into spheres of influence. In an attempt to avoid war against the USSR, the Latvian government decided to fulfil Moscow's peremptory demands. As a result, June 17, 1940, 100,000 Soviet troops occupied Latvia. After Latvia's occupation Moscow arranged political changes that were favourable to the Soviet regime. On June 14, 1941, approximately 14,000 Latvians were deported to Siberia in cattle cars, where most of them perished.
By July 10, 1941, German armed forces had occupied all of Latvia's territory. During World War II more than 200,000 Latvian soldiers ended up in the rank and file of both occupation forces; approximately half of them were killed on the battlefield. In mid-July 1944 the Soviet Army once again crossed Latvia's pre-war eastern border, and by October 13 had occupied Riga. The defeat of the national communists in occupied Latvia marked the beginning of a period that was characterised by total ideological and political control.
On June 14, 1987, the commemorative day of the 1941 deportations, the human rights group "Helsinki-86" organised a ceremony of placing flowers at the Freedom Monument. This was an unprecedented event that demonstrated the rebirth of national courage and self-confidence in Latvia.
On June 1 and 2, 1988, the Writers' Union held a congress, during which the Latvian intelligentsia discussed the democratisation of society, Latvia's economic sovereignty, ending migration from the USSR, the transformation of industry and the protection of Latvian language rights. The congress of the Writers' Union stirred up the public masses and provided an additional stimulus for the general process of national revival.
On August 23, 1989 the Baltic people created a 600-km-long human chain from Tallinn through Riga to Vilnius. This was a symbolic demonstration of the Baltic people's united will for independence.
On May 4, 1990, the new Supreme Soviet of the LSSR adopted a Declaration of Independence, which called for the renewal of pre-war Latvia and the 1922 Constitution. In January 1991 pro-Moscow and pro-communist political forces launched an attack to overthrow the lawfully elected goverment. On August 21, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Latvian Republic announced that the transition period to full independence that was declared on May 4, 1990, has come to an end. Thus, Latvia proclaimed itself a fully independent nation – a nation whose judicial foundation stemmed back to the statehood that existed before the occupation on June 17, 1940.
In September 1991, Latvia was admitted to the United Nations and the European Organisation for Security and Co-operation. In February, 1995, Latvia became a member of the European Council. In 2004 Latvia became a member of European Union and NATO.
Guiding Languages: EN, DE, RU, ES, IT, FR, TR, PT, SV
Excursion price includes: guiding
Duration: 3 hrs
Price per pax per group of: 10 pax
Guiding Languages: EN, DE, RU, ES, IT, FR, TR, PT, SV
Excursion price includes: guiding, entrance fee
Duration: 5 hrs (3 hrs Riga Old Town, 2 hrs Art Nouveau)
Price per person per group of: 10 pax
The Guided Riga Old Town tour is the best choice for those who would like to visit the most important historical places of Riga..
For centuries Latvia has been at the crossroads of Eastern and Western culture, hence its national cuisine is a rich mixture of Latvian, German, Russian, Swedish and Polish tastes and products.. Enjoy the taste of Latvia!
Enjoy Latvian traditional drink made of 24 different plants, flowers, buds, juices, roots, oils and berries, used as traditional medicine after caching cold. “Cheers! “ or in Latvian “Priekā!” with meaning “Joy!”
The exteriors of Art Nouveau buildings are imaginatively decorative and will leave guests spellbound. Riga is called “the capital” of Art Nouveau thanks to its heritage of 800 Art Nouveau buildings.
The guided excursion to Art Nouveau district and Riga Old Town is the best choice for those who would like to visit the most important historical places of Riga and see the largest collection of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe..
Experience life „behind the Iron Curtain!”. Celebrations of political heroes, shortages of everyday goods in the shops and the voucher system. Discover the feelings, sights, tastes and sounds of Soviet Riga..
Riga might have the highest concentration of wooden architecture than any European capital. The city where old and modern materials can coexist side by side, with varying streetscapes, attractive interplay of light and shade, and urban chaos..
The museum is the oldest and the largest museum of that kind in Europe. It preserves the objects of folk building monuments of Latvian historical and ethnographical regions characteristic to the period from the 17th century until 40-ies of the 20th century..
Impress your friends with sophisticated cocktails served at your next home party. Check out the cocktail workshop where you will be trained to prepare the most popular cocktails by professional bar tenders..
A world-famous seaside resort situated only 20 km from Riga. This place is a must - for those who are planning to visit Latvia in spring or summer..
Enjoy summer bobsleigh with speed, fast curves and a total adrenaline rush. A thrilling ride with a summer bob will be one of the best moments of your life..
Enjoy activities in Adventure Park which contains many tracks with different obstacles that hold in trees from 3 to 30 meters in height above the ground..
Visit Riga during the wintertime? One of the unique advantages of trip to Riga in winter holidays is a great skiing and snowboarding facilities just 30 minutes away from the capital. Have a fun on the hills and valleys of Gauja National Park..
Learn about important Jewish places located in the Riga Old Town and the central part of the city and hear the guide’ s stories about the history of Jewish life in Riga!
Cooking classes are a perfect activity for everyone from chefs-in-training to those who still mastering the art of boiling water. Classes can help refine your recipes, culinary knowledge or just provide a fun! Discover hands-on experience with culinary adventure in Baltics..
The historically rich town of Sigulda dominated by castle ruins and unspoiled nature is a touristic place where the beauty of nature becomes an integral part of the city..
Rundale Palace is one of the most outstanding monuments of Baroque and Rococo art in Latvia - known as Summer Residence of the Duke of Courland Ernst Johann Biron..
Unique experience to feel emotions and adrenaline as the top bobsleigh athletes of the world have! Enjoy stunning emotions and bob`s speed up to 100km/h. Experience the adventure and emotions of the lifetime..
Enjoy wonderful huskies sledding while your sled will be pulled through the beautiful winter scenery – snowy forests and fields, frozen rivers and likes. Escape from everyday crowds to perfect silence and rhythmic sounds of sleds breaking through the snow..
Have a fun by an off-road adventure on yourself drive quad bike. Rev up the engine and ride off into terrine, small hills and forests of Baltics. Quad biking in Latvia is a fun and unique way to discover the area out of the city..
Do you want to feel the real power of AK 47 Kalashnikov? Use the opportunity to shoot truly powerful weapons once per a lifetime. Use your shooting skills and hit the target as many times as possible..
4x4 off road adventure will create a memory that will remain vivid for a lifetime because of the wonderful adventures in beautiful lush green landscapes with the backcountry and small forest roads. During off road drive visitors will see Latvia beyond the walls of city – meadows, forests, rivers..
Get a quick adrenaline kick by experience snowmobile safari in quite countryside forests and roads of Baltics. The snowmobile safari is the best way to explore the beautiful nature and have a fun away of crowds and noisy everyday life..
Bungee Jumping is a crazy adrenalin activity from 43 metres high cable car over the Gauja River valley. Take a part in perfect adrenaline adventure for groups and individuals both young and old..
Experience flight simulator which breaks the rules of gravity and allows you to fly with the help of a huge fan that blasts out an air stream of about 180-200km/h..
A chill from the cold war, Chemical or Nuclear attack! 9 m underground nuclear bunker would protect the Soviet high army command and high ranking communist party members. You can devour Soviet food on the sounds of retro vinyl. This experience will whisk you back to the cold war years of the 70s..
Cesis and Sigulda are not only one of the oldest but also one of the most Latvian towns. Rich in picturesque landscapes and testimonies of the past, it embodies an intriguing sense of antiquity. Ancient treasures of Gauja River valley are MUST SEE for each traveler visiting Baltics..
The majestic castle ruins of Livonian order, revived legends, fights of medieval knights, beautiful parks for romantic walking – Cesis has it all. Test your skills for battle exercises and feel the heaviness of real armor – enjoy the true Medieval spirit in Cesis and nearest surrounding – Araisi..
During the tour you will see the cultural and historical heritage left behind rulers of several centuries – seven outstanding castles and manors in Latvia along with ancient castle ruins. You will spend time in enchanting small Latvian towns and visit UNESCO listed Riga Old Town and Art Nouveau district..
If for some reason you are not able to have too much of a free time, now you have perfect opportunity to discover Baltic states just in 3 days and have an outstanding holiday..
Riga is known as Hanseatic and Medieval cities with narrow lanes in Old Towns, while Vilnius more represents Baroque style with gorgeous cathedrals and churches, in total more than 40. Both capitals are rich of historical buildings, gorgeous churches and palaces and both are under UNESCO protection..
Enjoy your New Year evening party with celebrations of new beginning. Discover Riga and frozen Baltic See during winter time with winter activities and spectacular emotions..
Weekend is too short period to be fully acquainted with the rich historical and cultural heritage of the city, but visitors definitely will leave with new impressions and experience. This tour program will let them explore also one of the most beautiful and important city - Sigulda..
Riga and Tallinn are known as Hanseatic and medieval cities with narrow lanes in Old Towns. Both capitals are rich of historical buildings, significant castles, gorgeous churches, cathedrals and palaces, and both capitals are under UNESCO protection..
Short weekend brake in Riga full of exiting activities and booming nightlife is great getaway for busy people. Daytime activities and nightlife entertainment will give necessary holiday feeling and relaxation..
Enjoy the best celebration for end of the year and beginning of the New Year on board of the ferry STOCKHOLM - RIGA in the Baltic Sea. Enjoy rich New Year dinner buffet with the drinks and amazing night show with live music, karaoke, disco and attractive games..
The Baltic Capitals Tour gives guests unique opportunity to discover and explore the most beautiful and historical places of the Baltic countries. Riga and Tallinn are known as Hanseatic and Medieval cities with narrow lanes in Old Towns, while Vilnius more represents Baroque style with gorgeous churches..
Visit three alluring capitals on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Discover three amazing stories, diverse nations and ancient cultures. The highlights of the tour include the charming old towns of Riga and Tallinn and the most famous sights in Helsinki – acclaimed as the city of design.
Riga is the ultimate playground for big boys to have a lot of fun, adventure and adrenaline during the weekend. Experience beer degustation, shoot truly powerful weapons, check out antique vehicles, race with quad bikes and experience buzz of the nightlife in Riga..
Weekend is too short period to be fully acquainted with the rich historical and cultural heritage of the Riga and Stockholm, but definitely you will leave with new impressions and experience. Riga and Stockholm truly are one of the most beautiful cities in Europe..
For the 26th year running, the picturesque Latvian town Sigula will host its annual International Opera Festival at the Sigulda New Castle`s garden and Livonian castle ruins. Sigulda Opera Festival has become a valuable tradition and always gathers local and international opera stars.
This is a great opportunity to discover the most interesting sightseeing places of Latvia in one tour and to have amazing impression about history, heritage and culture.
Christmas is great time to embrace the cold, to enjoy traditional celebrations with hot wine, gingerbread in local Christmas markets, to attempt Christmas organ concerts and participate in winter activities in the Baltic states. Enjoy Christmas spirit and atmosphere! Experience traditions in the Baltic states..
“Delightfully Delicious Destination” is an unique project taking place twice per year. It is a chance to experience the unlimited imagination of 45 of Riga’s best chefs and their culinary mastery. Don’t miss to treat yourself with a delicious 3 course meal prepared from fresh seasonal products by very special price.
Join for an amazing chance to celebrate the Summer Solstice according to ancient Latvian traditions as local ancestors did centuries ago. Enjoy the shortest night of the year in the nature by making garlands of oak leaves and wild flowers, singing and dancing around the bonfire and eating caraway cheese and having a local beer..
Have a great choice for the ultimate weekend with your friends. Have the VIP entrance in casino, feel adrenalin by hunting wild boars or dears, check your precision by shooting powerful weapons, compete between your friends for the fastest racer title by quad bikes and enjoy Riga nightlife..
Experience the authentic and historic flavors of the region and learn more about the local culture, people and heritage. Enjoy the medieval feast, explore centuries old knowledge of beer brewing and learn steps of the folk dances. Get a taste of traditional Baltic cuisine through the centuries!
Classic Baltic Tour gives guests unique opportunity to explore the most beautiful and historical places of Baltic countries. Riga and Tallinn are known as Hanseatic cities with narrow lanes in Old Towns, while Vilnius more represents Baroque style with gorgeous churches, in total more than 40..
The whole Baltic Sea is within your reach! Combine an exciting city break with an eventful cruise on board of luxurious vessels. Discover the uniqueness of the Scandinavian archipelago, the charm of Riga and Tallinn and experience the elegant and relaxed atmosphere on board..
The Baltic region`s gastronomic heritage accomplishes the current global dining trend - natural, seasonal, grown near home and prepared by respecting old traditions.
Surprise your tastes` buds with true abundance given by the nature - game, mushrooms and berries supplied from our forests, vegetables, and fruits from gardens and fishes from the Baltic Sea. Enjoy the genuine taste of the Baltic states!
Enjoy James Bond lifestyle by arrival with limousine, gambling in casino, shoot truly powerful weapons, having off-road race, explore private aircraft flight, train to prepare the most sophisticated cocktails for ladies and experience the taste of Riga nightlife..
Folklore Festival Baltica began in 1987 and has taken place every year since, rotating between all the Baltic states. The Festival Baltica features ethnographic ensembles, folklore groups, individual performers who presents ethnographic songs, instrumental music, narratives, folk dances and traditional crafts and arts.
The eastern shores of the Baltic Sea were the last corners of Europe to be christianized. Visit the most vivid examples of the crusades` castles and towns, which joined to the Hanseatic League and achieved significant prosperity during Middle Ages and became well developed, modern cities by nowdays..
Experience the Baltic States from different perspective. Soviet Union collapse 25 years ago despite of that you can still feel some outcomes, see the architectural evidences and hear the stories of the life behind the Iron Curtain. Soviet Legacy tour will give you the answer - what people lost after independence..
Discover crusading impulse, religious thoughts and ideas of the Middle Ages by visiting ancient settlements, the most well preserved castles of bishop, historical market squares and Hanseatic towns. Get to know the history by following the movement of Baltic crusades on their trails..
Experience locations featured in the BBC the breathtaking costume drama War & Peace including Catherine Palace and Yusupov Palace in St.Petersburg, Vilnius Old Town in Lithuania, Rundale Palace in Latvia and much more. Book the ready made tour package based on filmed places at BBC drama War & Peace and walk on paths of main characters..
In the footsteps of TV stars!
Vilnius used to be an important European Jewish center. From the 14th century onwards Jews settled in the city, and by the 18th century Vilnius was known as the Jerusalem of the North. Visit Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius and learn about Baltic Jewish history and life in the Baltic states..
Characterized as La Scala of the North, Latvian National Opera is famous for the splendid interior and outstanding performances. The credo "Culture need to be affordable for everyone!" makes the ticket prices surprisingly reasonable which welcomes many opera lovers from all around the world.
With more than 40`000 amateur singers and folk dancers, the Great Song and Dance Celebrations are a very emotional and colorful get-together with the most loved traditional folk songs and folk dances. Enjoy a stunning beauty and colorfulness of folk costumes and the significance of the folk dance patterns.
Amber - a magical and extraordinary stone. People have believed in the magical power of amber from the ancient times. Follow up to the stories of the protective and medicinal power of amber. Have an exclusive opportunity to visit famous capital of amber and Amber museum in Palanga..
4 capitals of the Baltic States…
Tour – Treasures of Baltic’s - gives guests unique opportunity to discover and explore the most beautiful and historical places of 4 Baltics. 7 days will ensure great and memorable impressions of gorgeous Hanseatic Town squares, many historical buildings, significant castles and churches..
The Baltic Highlights tour - gives guests an unique opportunity to discover the most beautiful and historical places of the 3 Baltic countries. 8 days will ensure great and memorable impressions of gorgeous Hanseatic Town squares, many historical buildings and significant castles..
During the tour you will be able to see four beautiful countries, learn about their history and amazing culture. 8 days will ensure great and memorable impressions of gorgeous Hanseatic Town squares, many historical buildings, significant castles, gorgeous churches, cathedrals and palaces..
First class accommodation, award-winning restaurants, world class entertainment, facilities for conferences and a variety of shops are all at your service. Enjoy the services of the cruise ships and stunning cities around the Baltic Sea..
Discover marvelous man-made and natural UNESCO World Heritage sights in the Baltic states. The route will introduce you with many historical and charming places while the guides will enlighten about Intangible Cultural Heritage - the Baltic Way, Song and Dance Festivals and the world`s largest Folk Song collection.
Have an unique opportunity to combine Russian metropolis Moscow and cultural capital St. Petersburg with lavish green and peaceful Baltic states at one trip. Savor four different cultures, amazing characters and fascinating stories. Experience and feel the diversity of vibrant urban features..
All of 5 cities are rich of historical buildings, significant castles, gorgeous churches, cathedrals and palaces. Grand Baltic Tour is great chance to visit the most beautiful pearls of Baltic Sea region in one trip..
Discover mysterious Belarus and the Baltic states! Belarus will delight with Soviet architectural vibes, medieval castles, pristine nature and charectaristic cuisine while the 3 Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will provide tranquility, scenes of with Hanseatic architecture and prosperous cultural heritage..
Enjoy a true spirit of Christmas time and winter Wonderland! Combine the visit of amazing Lapland and all three Baltic States. Discover the beauty of the white snowy winter and spice up your trip with truly fascinating reindeer sledging, the Northern Light watching and quietness of the Artic night..
6 amazing cities of Baltic Sea countries in one tour will give the most colorful and expressive impression of people, culture, traditions and history of the region. Discover the beauty of the Baltic Sea region..
Take advantage of unique chance to feel yourself as a pilot of the double seat military fighter jet aircraft. Such flight becomes an unique, unforgettable experience and you can enjoy sensations which are experienced by the pilot during performance of elements of aerobatics..