Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Exploring Riga : A Walking Tour of Old Town

Last night we had an amazing walking tour of Old Town ... we were blessed to have an America pastor here in Latvia at the same time as us and he has this extensive knowledge of the history here. He gives lots of tours - we chose a one hour tour so we could bring all the kids along and keep them engaged the whole time. {Pictured above a home built in the 1300's - the kids are posing by a symbol which would have been the address of the home.}

Our last stop was the location pictured above ... the house of the black cat. Legend has it that an artist was denied access into the craft guild in Riga - so he crafted this iron cat placed it on top of his home and pointed its bottom toward the guild. When the city council got involved and made the guild accept the artist he turned the kitty cat the other way. Anyway, this is a very famous building - I even bought a small watercolor painting of it.

Above, a shot of the beautiful canal in Old Town. The ship displaying the crest of the city. We thought it looked very Norwegian.

Family standing around a cannon outside one of the original walls that protected the city - the cannon dates back to the 1700's.

Pictured above, the sign above one of the entrances to the catholic church - this building dates back to 1225.

Above, outside one of the original gates to the city - this gate way built in the 1600's. Legend has it that a young girl was entombed in the archway because, she had wrongly fallen in love with a Swedish prince and to this day, if the moon is right and your heart is right, you can here her saying "I love you" when you walk through the gateway.

Devin, above, pictured outside one of the original walls of the city - some parts had been rebuilt. The city elevation has been raised to allow for modern day sewer and water - so many of the original buildings and walls fall below that level - as pictured above.

Another stop on our tour - the Freedom Monument - this is like our Statue of Liberty. Built in the 1930's it depicts many scenes of Latvians dying at the hands of their conquerors and represents all that this country has gone through to gain their freedom. The top of the monument between the arms and stars seems to show either a cross or an angel but, the artist never revealed what it truly was - so it is left up to the admirer to decide for themselves.

Pictured below, the powder tower - which housed the black powder used during times to fire cannons and guns. It is so beautiful and amazing to think of the history behind it.

We met this sweet woman playing her guitar and singing at the Freedom Monument - she spoke some English and chose English songs to sing to us. We enjoyed our conversation with her!

The Spanish looking building below at the end of the alley is from the Crusaders Period in the 1300's. Again, just amazing to be up close to these types of buildings. We took the kids picture outside the building - it is the first one on my blog post.

We went to the top floor of a hotel in Old Town and got this awesome view of the city! Lots of tops of buildings and a nice view of the bridge into the city over the river.

That is just a few of the pictures I took ... so much beauty in this city that has seen so much change and been ruled by so many different countries.

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