This is it, the city I consider to be the jewel of the Baltics based solely on my brief visit. We said farewell to Vilnius and headed to Riga, the capital of Latvia. Before crossing the border, we took a slight detour to fit in one last stop in Lithuania. Welcome to what’s known as the Hill of Crosses.
You’re looking at just a tiny fraction of more than 100,000 crosses. I’d say the wow factor is pretty spot on here.
Super short history lesson: The first crosses were erected in 1831 to remember those who died in the November Uprising against the Russian Empire. It started in Poland but grew to include parts of Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. The Russian army eventually stamped out the rebels, but this memorial continued to grow in size and popularity, especially after Pope John Paul II paid a visit in 1993.
Now I can turn my attention to Riga. It has to be the very definition of a walkable city. It took all of 10 minutes to walk from our hotel into the heart of Old Town. It must’ve been about 10 p.m. by the time we arrived, but there was definitely no shortage of activity. It’s as if the whole city turned into one big outdoor patio!
If my impression of Latvia is based on nothing else but Riga, I can only assume the whole country must be filled with architects and musicians. You’re almost guaranteed to hear live music being played at every street corner.
I could keep gushing about the beauty of Riga, but to fully appreciate it, you need to just see it for yourself.
Wandering around the winding cobblestone roads is all well and good, but the most breathtaking view has to be from the top of St. Peter’s Church.
See what I mean? Prior to this trip, I’d only ever thought of Latvia as the land of jellied meat (all thanks to the infallible wisdom of the Lizzie McGuire Show, which I watched religiously from ages 10 to 13). All I can say now is, Lizzie, you do not know what you’re missing.