But Riga is much more than just its history. Proud of its heritage, it is a thoroughly modern city with a highly developed infrastructure and opportunities for avariety of activities and entertainment. Acity with rich musical traditions, today it boasts an excellent opera, several world-class choirs and outstanding classical orchestras, not to mention jazz, rock and blues ensembles, plus a variety of other popular music bands performing in both concert halls and clubs. At the vanguard of dramatic art not only locally but on the European scale, the New Riga Theatre has much to offer to locals and visitors alike. Riga's museums are definitely not dusty repositories of the past, but are instead putting an increasing emphasis on interactive displays and modern technologies, while the many art galleries compete with each other in trying to predict the trends of the future. Add to that the varied shopping venues and myriad cafes, restaurants, bars, and night clubs, and youget Riga in all its lively variety.
Among Riga's many treasures are its beautiful, well-tended gardens and parks, which take up a substantial portion of the city's territory. In fact, there are several good-sized forests within the city limits, where the locals love to take Sunday strolls, jog, watch birds, pick mushrooms in the autumn, and go skiing in the winter. In the spring, when the city's many orchards are in bloom, white petals can be seen drifting through the air; then come the purples and pinks of lilacs, which are particularly spectacular along the crooked, dreamy side-streets of Pardaugava, on the left bank of the river, to be followed in late June by the pale honey of blossoming lindens that line Riga's stately boulevards.
Even the most cynical Latvians retain some reverence for the Freedom monument, one of Riga's central landmarks. Unveiled in 1935 and financed entirely from public donations, the stone and metal structure was originally built in memory of those who fell during Latvia's War of Independence, which lasted from 1918-1920. The monument rapidly became the main symbolof Latvia's statehood, national unity and independence.The motto "For the Fatherland and Freedom" is inscribed upon the base.
One of the most striking features of the Old Town's classic skyline is the Riga Castle, which has served as the seat of various rulers through out the centuries. After independence was restored in 1991, the castle became the primary workplace of the President.
In terms of age, size, and overall majesty, nothing in Riga can equal the Dome Cathedral, the largest medieval church in the Baltic States. The Dome's interior holds many unique treasures that offer insights into the art history of the Baltic region. The Dome's famous organ - once the largest in the world - was constructed in 1884 and has more than 6700 pipes.
As you stroll through the Old Town's winding, cobblestone streets, you will discover numerous other elegant buildings - including the Three Brothers complex. Pils iela, the Hotel Neiburgs on Jauniela and the recently rebuilt Blackheads House on Ratslaukums - reflecting traces of Baroque, Renaissance, Classicist, ArtNouveau and other architectural styles
The main attractions of Riga are Saint Peter's Church, Riga Zoo, Riga Castle, Freedom Monument, Museum of the Occupation of the Latvia, Riga Motor Museum, Latvian War Museum, Kisezers Riga, Latvian National Museum of Art, Nativity Cathedral Riga, Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum, Museum of the History of Riga, Small Guild Riga, Riga Aviation Museum, St. Gertrude Old Church, Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Latvian Museum of Natural History, Riga Film Museum, Latvian Railway History Museum, Vermanes Garden, Museum of Foreign Art Riga, Dome Cathedral and much more. Here in this heritage city you can also find a lot of green areas, parks, gardens, near about forty museums and theaters with an active artistic life.