A fine way to start our day was with a wooden boat tour of the Rīga canal and Daugava. We chose our captain on the banks of the canal just next to the Freedom Monument, and then it was off! down the canal towards the National Opera (did you know this was the first building in Rīga to have electricity?). Shortly after passing the Central Market (built in 1930 and still one of the largest covered markets in Europe) we emerged from the canal to Daugava.
Daugava forms in the Valdai Hills of Russia and forms the Belarussian/Latvian international border before flowing into Latvia and eventually draining into the Gulf of Rīga. It is 624 miles long, only 202 of which are in Latvia. The view from the stretch between the canals is incredible, as you can see the entirety of the Vecrīga skyline to the east and the brand new Gaismas Pils library (“Castle of Light”) to the west.
Right before the Vanšu bridge is the ancient Crusader Castle of the Livonian Order, Rīga Castle. This third reincarnation of a castle was built in 1491, and has been expanded over the years to now serve as the home of the President. Luckily the President is currently staying elsewhere as the castle is being renovated and a fire burned a large section of attic and roof last week. It is still not being reported how extensive the damage is, and it could be considerable; the castle is also home to the National History Museum of Latvia and the Museum of Foreign Art.
|The charred remains of the roof can be seen on the left|