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Castles of Latvia - Cesis Pils

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Cesis Castle Since we are in CCP virus lockdown here, I have to take you on a tour of Latvian castles that we visited last summer. The only thing I've seen in the last month is the inside of my apartment or grocery store, neither of which you want to see.   The first castle I'd like to show you is in the town of Cesis. The pils (the word castle in Latvian) sits on a small hill surrounded by the city which, of course, grew up around the castle.  Model of the castle Most of the castle today is ruins. It was first constructed of stone around 1209, so it's been around a very long time. When it was completed, it became the seat of the Livonians. The Master of the Livonian Order used it as his residence from 1239 to 1561. The Livonians were the rulers of the territory known as Latvia today. Altar in the ruins The ruins sit in a beautiful park now. We wandered around the grounds of the old castle and came upon an ancient altar that was used in the castle hundreds of years ago. My

Honoring Covid -19 Healthcare Workers

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Healthcare Statue   Many things in Riga have changed since last March when the Chinese virus descended on the world. One lasting thing will be a 20-foot statue that now adorns the lawn in front of the National Latvian Art Museum.  This statue, dedicated way back in June of last year,   appeared as a way to thank the healthcare workers for their untiring work in the hospitals. The woman, wearing a lab coat, gloves and a face mask, has her hands out in service.  National Latvian Art Museum Sculptor Aigars Birkse created the artwork, along with the European League of Institutes of the Arts. They said this statue   “is dedicated to medics in Latvia and around the world, praising their selfless courage and care during the Covid-19 outbreak.” Museum in background At that time, Latvia had not been affected by the coronavirus very much at all. During the summer, life in Old Town Riga was pretty normal, except for the lack of tourists since the borders were closed.  However, since November, Lat

A Foxy Tale

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A unique sighting Last week we discovered something unique to Riga. We looked into a rumor of a building with a fox sculpture attached. When we located the building, we were surprised to see how large this fox actually was.  As you can see by the picture on the left, it's several times my size. It's standing on a portion of a building but crawling down toward the ground.  There wasn't much of an explanation as to why this particular animal was built in this particular location. Well, there was a sign posted on the wall, but it was written in Russian and Latvian, so I couldn't read a word of it.  Building next to the fox  The neighborhood where we found it wasn't very memorable. In fact, it was rather run down, like many old Soviet neighborhoods are in Riga.  Old Soviet buildings None of the surroundings explained why the fox was located there. Just down the street, we spotted a tall Soviet era building that is known in Riga as "Stalin's birthday cake."

Winter Wonderland

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  Cathedral Square in the snow On the day after Christmas, Riga had its first snow of the winter. Since we haven't seen the city covered in snow yet, we went for a walk around Old Town. I wanted to share the beautiful night with you.  The picture below was taken out of our family room window.  Cathedral tower  Riga Castle from the park The scenery was amazing as we walked in the falling snow. It looked like a movie set.  Picturesque shops We were surprised how many people were out and about. Earlier in the day, the streets had been bare. I think people just wanted fresh air after being in lock down for so long.  Typical street scene It will be a night to be remembered for many years to come.   Icy tree branches Later in the evening, the snow turned more to freezing rain coating the trees. The icy trees sparkled in the street lights. It was magical to say the least - and rather wet to walk in. :)  A coffee shop in a small park Looking across the Daugava River

Merry Christmas from Riga!

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  House of the Black Heads  After our month-long visit to the States, we returned to Riga last week. I'd like to share some seasonal decorations with you. This is our first Christmas in Latvia, so I can't really compare the beauty of the Christmas lights to last year. I'm sure that Christmas in Riga is very toned down from the usual celebration.  We've seen several large decorated trees around Old Town as we've walked the small area. The trees are beautiful, but in between there aren't a lot of lights.  Dom Square  I know that there is usually a large Christmas market in Dom Square which is about two blocks from our house. The square is usually bursting with small huts where vendors are selling lots of goodies and mulled wine, plus the Christmas decorations that tourists like.  We did witness that last year when we were in Riga on January 8 to search for an apartment. This year it's completely bare except for the large tree in front of the Cathedral.  Downto

A Memorable German City

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  Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Severi Church When we visited the Luther sites in our trip to Germany in 1983, we went to Erfurt to see where Martin Luther was ordained in the Erfurt Cathedral in 1507. This imposing structure sits at the crest of a hill in the city.  Sheer size of the cathedral While we were in Germany this summer, we again visited Erfurt. The size is just as impressive today as it was back then.  The size of the building can't really be described. The altar is so far away when you're in the middle of the church that you don't realize that the candle sticks are as tall as a person.  View of the altar I remember on our first visit that a woman was working on the main altar in the cathedral. She stood on top of the altar, changing the candle in the candlestick, which was her height!  Looking toward the organ The organ is massive also. I can't imagine worshipping in this cathedral every Sunday. I wish we could have heard music soaring to the rafters in the

Excitement in the Neighborhood

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  Anglican Church  Last week we had some excitement on our quiet street. Someone rang our doorbell at 7 PM, something which never happens. My husband went downstairs to see who was there. He came back and announced that a movie crew was going to shoot a movie scene from 9:00 to 3:00 in the morning.  We've never had anything exciting like that in our corner of Old Riga. I knew I wanted to share the experience with you. They were going to work by the Anglican Church which is across the street from us. I took all the pictures out of our window, so you can see how close we were.  Spotlight in the embassy garden They pulled up around 9:00 and plugged all the spot lights in. Our neighborhood was illuminated that night. They unloaded all sorts of equipment for their use. Good thing our bedroom is on the back of the apartment. We shut our bedroom door to block out the bright lights when we went to bed later on.  Standing around  It started raining shortly after their arrival. That seemed t