Showing posts from 2020

Spring in Riga

With the long warmer days here, the flowers have brought beauty to the parks near us. I'll share this postcard with you of the Riga spring flowers.

Our days are getting very long since we're so far north. The sun rises before 5:00 now and sets at 9:45 at night. By June 21, the sun will be up from 4:30 AM to 10:22 PM. Lots of time to party!

Between Old Riga and the rest of the city, a canal runs through a beautiful park. We were told that the canal is actually where the old moat surrounded the walled city.

It's lovely to stroll along the canal through the beautiful park. It's one of our favorite walks.

The park is dotted with statues and fountains.

We are looking forward to seeing what summer flowers will be added to the collection when they open up. By then we'll be able to go for a walk at 10:00 at night and still see the sunshine. I can't wait!

Ye Olde City Wall

Sections of the original walls of Old Riga can be seen in different areas yet today. In the picture at the left you can see that the 1.5 meter thick walls were quite tall with a covered walkway on the top for the people who defended the city. Of course, this section of the wall was reconstructed after many years of use, but some of the stones are original.

Riga was started around 1200 with the beginning fortifications built within a hundred years. Through the years, the walls were expanded or reinforced to keep the city safe from invaders. By the beginning of the 19th century, the walls were no longer necessary because of modern armaments, but sections still remain in the city today.

On a walk through Old Riga, you will be able to discover the different pieces of the remaining wall found in the city.

Besides the section shown above, the largest section of the wall includes the Powder Tower, originally built in 1330 and destroyed in 1621. It is the last remaining tower of the wall in …

The Legend of Lielais Kristaps

Riga has another statue that is located only a block from our flat. It's called the Big Christopher (Lielais Kristaps in Latvian) statue.

The interesting thing about this statue is the story behind it. According to the legend, a kind-hearted giant, originally named Offero, lived near the Daugava River. He would carry people across the wide river on his shoulder if they needed to get to the other side.

One day a small boy asked Offero to carry him across the raging river. He sat on the giant's shoulder as he walked through the river, but the farther the giant walked, the heavier the child became. After struggling, the man finally reached the opposite shore.

The boy then explained that he was the Christ and the burden the giant carried was the sins of the world. He then baptized the giant and renamed him "Christopher" because that means Christ-bearer. After Christopher returned home, he found a pile of gold waiting for him. He used the gold to build the original city…

Lutheran Cathedral in Liepaja

Most American Lutherans think that the terms cathedral and Lutheran don't go together, however, in European countries it isn't unusual to find them describing a church in a city. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in the city of Liepaja is an example of this.

Liepaja is a large town in the western coast of Latvia, close to the Baltic Sea. It's a couple hours drive from Riga. Last fall, Bishop Hanss Martins Jensons drove us to this city and gave us a tour of this cathedral. His office is based in Liepaja, so Holy Trinity has now become a cathedral because this is his church.

The outside of the church, constructed in 1758 in the late Baroque era, is currently under reconstruction, so I don't have any pictures of it, but the inside was very beautiful. The golden, intricate decorations in the chancel, however, attest to the fact that it's decorated in the Rococo style.

The organ of Holy Trinity is the world's largest mechanical organ with 7000 pipes. It was rebuilt to it…

Riga's Version of Bremen Town Musicians

Many of you probably have heard the story "The Town Musicians of Bremen" or maybe remember something about a donkey, dog, cat, and rooster standing on top of one another. Riga has a statue depicting this story right next to St. Peter Lutheran Church.

When I first saw it, I remembered the fairy tale from my childhood about these four animals heading out from their farm because they felt old and useless. After conferring with each other, they decide to go to the town of Bremen to become musicians and live in freedom.

While they were walking on the road to the town, they spotted a cottage nearby. When they looked through the window, they saw robbers, counting stolen money. The four friends decided to chase the robbers away, so the dog climbed on the donkey's back, the cat climbed on the dog's back, and the rooster stood on the cat's back. The four animals then proceeded to make so much noise that the robbers ran away, scared to death. The four then decided to move …

This is a Dry Topic

A dryer is a dryer. Or is it? That is the question. I thought there was an obvious answer to that question until we moved into our flat here in Riga. The first time I attempted to dry clothes the machine ran for hours and the clothes were warm, but far from dry.

I was fortunate enough to discover that the direction book on top of the dryer had an English section which I poured over trying to figure out the problem. After reading the problem solving page, I figured out the answer to the question above. All dryers are not created equal.

I haven't had too much experience with dryers in Europe (drying racks are the norm) -- in fact this is only the second time I've used one, but this dryer was definitely not my typical experience with these machines. This is a ventless dryer. Instead of blowing the moist air out of the vent to the outside, this dryer somehow collects all the moisture from the clothes into a tank. I picture it to be something like an de-humidifier that takes the m…

After the Shutdown

When we can once again join other fellow Christians in worship, St. John's in Riga will be our home church because this is the one congregation that will have English worship services. We were invited into the church last week to speak to the pastors about the possibility of doing online services even before we can gather there.

St. John's dates back to 1297 when it was built as a chapel for the Dominican cloister nearby. The chapel was destroyed in a fire in the 1400s and then rebuilt as a much larger church.

When the Lutheran Reformation came to Riga in the early 1500s, the church building changed from Catholic worship to Lutheran worship. The chancel area was added soon after, almost doubling the size of the worship space.

The vaulted ceiling of the church is decorated with a magnificent webbed pattern. This is a unique feature of this building, making this a must-see spot for tourists.

The church is filled with typical Lutheran fixtures from the crucifix-adorned altar to …

A Lavtian or Soviet Monument?

When I first saw this monument standing in a square in Riga, I thought it was a left-over of the Soviet era when Russia ruled the Latvians. I was actually surprised that the Latvians hadn't torn it down after the occupation was over in 1991. I now admit that I was wrong.

This monument, labelled The Freedom Monument, was built in 1935 by the Latvians to commemorate the freedom that they won in 1920. Before that, Latvia was ruled by Russia, Poland, Finland, or Germany in different periods of time. Finally, after World War I, the Latvians managed to throw out the foreign armies and gain independence.

Two years later they wrote and adopted their constitution. The people of Latvia collected donations to build this monument as a remembrance of the people who died in the battles of 1919 and 1920 to gain the freedom. The 42 meter tall monument is inscribed with the words "For Fatherland and Freedom" on the pedestal.

The base of the statue is surrounded by 56 large sculptures sho…

Dining in Medieval History

When we moved to Riga, we knew that we were going to be living in a much older city than St. Petersburg, but we had no idea that we'd be able to experience the history first-hand. A couple weeks ago, we went to a restaurant that took us back to Medieval times.

When we first walked in the door, a banner with a knight greeted us. Other ancient artifacts from Medieval Times decorated the area. How would you like to wear one of the helmets on the left?

We found out that this basement restaurant was first a wine cellar built in 1293. Today it's a restaurant named Rosengrals.

The low arched ceilings and squat stone pillars attested to the history of the building. The lighting in the restaurant was mainly candles which caused a  dark, mysterious atmosphere.

In the middle of the restaurant was an original well, built to help in the wine-making process. Used as a wishing-well today, it adds to the ancient ambience.

Everything on the menu was described as ancient cuisine from around the …