Riga Old Town

Riga, Latvia

Riga Old Town (Vecrīga) is the historical center of Riga, Latvia, located on the east side of Daugava River. Vecrīga is famous for its old churches and cathedrals, such as Riga Cathedral and St. Peter's church.

Vecrīga is the original area of Riga and consists of the historic city limits before the city was greatly expanded over the years. In the old days, Vecrīga was protected by a surrounding wall except the side adjacent to the Daugava river bank. When the wall was torn down, the waters from Daugava filled the space creating Riga City Canal.

In the 1980s Vecrīga's streets were closed to traffic and only area residents and local delivery vehicles are allowed within Vecrīga's limits with special permits. Vecrīga is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site listed as "Historic Centre of Riga".

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Address

Kungu iela, Riga, Latvia
See all sites in Riga

Details

Founded: 13th century
Category: Historic city squares, old towns and villages in Latvia
Historical period: German Crusades (Latvia)

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Maksims Svežencevs (9 months ago)
5 stars for 5 stars. Great place to stay. Location is close to perfect, only parking issues(additional expenses) are dragging location slightly down. However there is plenty opportunities to rent a car, scooter or electric bike arround old town of Riga by simply downloading the app and you ready to go, so no parking is needed whatsoever. Bed is huge and super comfortable, providing two type of pillows is awesome idea. Side sofa is also comfortable for short rests while reading. Air conditioner is working well and room was kept cool. Room was also kept clean all times and water bottles provided. Food is great here in general, my misses is enjoying every time we go there ..and we been places and have had lots of other experiences too. So this place holds the standards high. Restaurant is offering wide range of drinks. Gym, there is not many people using it, so I've had it for myself nearly every time I went there. Still planning to visit sound and swimming pool, but weather is too good to stay in. Overall our stay was perfect three more days to go.
Andreas Adamsen (9 months ago)
Great place to stay for a short trip to Riga! We spent four nights at Pullman and everything was as you would expect. For a hotel with this level of quality we thought that the price was quite cheap. Service at check-in and check-out was great. The room was spacious, air-conditioned, with a very spacious shower, and included complimentary still water as well as coffee and tea. We also made use of both the swimmingpool and the fitness and both were very nice facilities. Pullman is highly recommended if you're spending a small handful of days in Riga!
Timo Uustal (9 months ago)
Lovely hotel in Riga Old Town. It actually is put together from different buildings next to each other, having both historical charm and modern conveniences. For Old Town area hotel, rooms are spacious, with comfy beds and fast wifi. There are a few deluxe rooms with huge balconies as well, suitable for smaller gatherings. Try out cool in-house cocktails and enjoy mouthwatering breakfast buffet - including smoothies and freshly made orange juice. Hotel doesn't have private parking, but there's paid public parking space behind the hotel. Would be delighted to return.
Kristiina Meentalo (9 months ago)
Just Love the quality and choice of amenities. It's amazing that you can choose a type of pillow by your own. Was sleeping like a baby ♥️
Dirk-Jan Palland (10 months ago)
We travel to Riga a few times per year and this was our first stay in this hotel. We try a different 4-5 star hotel every trip, but this is one of our favorites. The room was nice, clean and modern. Only weird thing is the light switches, it’s a puzzle to turn them all off. Like most Latvian hotels, it is not really 5 stars, if you compare it to other western European countries 5 star hotels. The rooms are too simple for that, however, compared to other hotels in Riga this is really one of our new favorites! We also had a great deal for 38eu for 1 night stay. Service was friendly, location is great and public parking is super close and super cheap (only 15eu per 24h, this is 2 hours worth of parking in Amsterdam). We did not try the breakfast.
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Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.