Click on title to view photo in large format. The historic center of Riga, Latvia, is composed of three distinct districts: the Old Town of Riga, the 19th century boulevards and greensward along the City Canal, and the adjacent residential area that is home to an incredible collection of 18th and 19th century wooden homes. These combined urban areas were awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in December of 1997, and no visit is complete without a visit to all three.
Shown in the photo above is a typical street in the medieval core, or historic Old Town of Riga. From the 13th to the 15th century, it was one of the key centers of the Hanseatic League in Eastern Europe. The League; a group of German merchants, guilds, and their associated market towns; dominated trade in the Baltic region from 1400 to 1800. As an important city within the league, Riga benefited economically and culturally. Beautiful homes were built throughout the city and today it is largely acknowledged that Riga has the largest collection of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe, with more than 50 in the Old Town alone. Colorful streets in the historic Old Town like the one shown in the above photo beg to be walked, biked, or enjoyed during a ride in a pedi-cab.