If you visit Latvia and have a special interest in Latvian history here is a good places for you to visit.
Latvian National History Museum
Riga. Pils Laukums 3 (closed for now- future location Brīvības Bulvāris 32
The main museum about Latvian history was located in Riga Presidential castle at Pils Laukums 3 (Castle Square 3) at third floor. After the fire in the castle, on July 2014 the museum was closed. However, on 2014 possibly in Summer the museum exposition will be temporary moved to Brīvības Bulvāris 32 the site of the Sakta shop and former location for Faculty of History and Philosophy Main museum expositions show Latvian history from Prehistory to 20. century twenties thirties. You can find archeological findings, medieval weapons, models of Latvian castles, recreations of Latvian peasant homes. Also you can explore the life of German landlords and check the fine Jugendstil art. Section about first Latvian independence has a fine collection of beautiful Latvian awards. Last section shows aspects of loss of independence in 1939.-1940. There is also a displays of sacral arts and Latvian schools. Most interesting display is the numismatics section. The history of Latvian money is shown here. Museum holds largest numismatics collection in Latvia.
Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation
Rīga Palasta iela 4
Located at the street of Palasta in Old Riga, Riga history museum is one of the finest museums in Riga. Museum displays a history of Riga, showing rare and interesting objects. Special exposition for history of Latvian shipping shows unique ship models from all times. A Silver cabinet show marvelous collection of silver statues and decorations. Museum has many marvelous things to look at and its worth visiting it.
Museum of Occupation of Latvia
Riga Raiņa Bulvāris 7
If make it to the main town square were Riga municipality and House of Blackheads is located you wont miss large black box building that does not fit into historic Riga center. It’s the museum of occupation. In Soviet times it was built as a museum for Latvian Red Rifleman (there is a monument dedicated to them right next to the building). After the fall of Soviet regime it became a place for remembering years of occupations that hold the grip over Latvia for 50 years. Museum tells a gripping story of two occupations by Soviets and Nazis. Its a tradition that every foreign president must visit the museum to know official Latvian stance of this matter. So far presidents of Russia has never visited Riga and has not seen the museum. Right now, the main building is undergoing restoration and museum exposition is temporary found at the former US Embassy Building at Raiņa Bulvāris 9.
Latvian War museum
Smilšu iela 20
More exiting is the Latvian war museum. Located in old Medieval guard tower the “Powder tower”, museum has a large exposition of weapons from all ages and countries. Other expositions show history of Latvian warfare from First world war to 1991. It’s certanly a good place for military history lovers. Currently one of the best history museums in Riga.
Latvian National Art Museum
Riga K.Valdemāra ielā 10 (closed for restoration)
Located in large beautiful 19. century building museum holds all best that Latvian art could offer. Showing paintings from Latvia, Baltic region and Russia from 18. century to 20. museum is fine place for art lovers. Museum also has a separate display hall called Arsenal at Torņu iela 1 where military arsenal once existed. It holds regular interesting displays of old and new art. As for now the mani building is undergoing restoration. However, the partner museums the Exhibition hall Aresnāls at Torņa Street 1 and Roman Suta and Alexandra Belcova at 57a Elizabetes Street is worth to visit. Museum of Decorative Arts and Design at St. George church the oldest surviving house in Riga is a good site to visit.
From 2012 the Art Museum Rīgas Birža located at completely renovated former Riga Stock Exchange museum is one of the most modern and grand art display sites in Riga. Located at Dome Square 6 its a museum of high quality.
Latvian ethnographic open air museum
Rīga Brīvības gatve 440
At the outskirts of Riga a large open air museum is located. There you can see a wide selection of old Latvian rural architecture. Old rural buildings were brought to museum territory and conserved. Museum shows how Latvians lived in country centuries ago. Not only old buildings but selection of agricultural tools that was used at those times. A marvelous piece of wooden architecture is Lutheran church of Usma. It was transported from Courland to Riga and still operates as church. Inside it there is beautiful interior and wall paintings.
The Usma wooden church in museum
Museum of 1991 barricades
Riga Krāmu iela 3
Located in Old Riga, museum holds memorabilia of 1991. Barricade movement. There you can see how people lived in Soviet Latvia, and various objects from time when whole nation raised up to protect Riga from Soviet counter reaction.
Museum Jews in Latvia
Rīga Skolas iela 6
Located at the old Riga Jewish Theater on the third floor the museum covers entire Jewish history in Latvia from the 16th century to Holocaust.
Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust museum
Riga. Maskavas 14a( entrance from Krasta street)
A museum dedicated to the history of Holocaust in Riga. Still under construction, but open to visitors.
Žanis Lipke Memorial Museum
Riga. Mazais Balasta Dambis 8
The Memorial Museum located at the site where Jewish rescuer Žanis Lipke lived and made refuge for large numbers of Jews. A highly qualitative and modern memorial and impressive architect project by Zaiga Gaile.
Ropažu 2, Rīga.
The VEF electronic factory was the main Latvian industrial producer before WW2 and during the Soviet era. The legacy of this factory that produced radios, telephone, and many other things are gathered at the VEF palace of culture. Inside the Stalinist style building on the second floor you will see the VEF production – radios, famous MINOX camera and many other things.
Spilve Avation Museum
Daugavgrīvas 140, Rīga
The Old Airport of Riga was located at Spilve. Its Airport terminal built according to Stalinist traditions is truly a wonder of Soviet architecture. Note the impressive wall paintings. Now the terminal serves as museum of Latvian Aviation.
District of Bauska
The last Duke of Courland and Semigallia Ernest Johannes Biron ordered to build a magnificent summer residence at Rundāle. Build in 1736.-1740. Rundale Baroque palace is finest piece of Baroque arts in Eastern Europe. Marvelous interior is combined with beautiful garden outside the castle. In last twenty years much has been done to make this castle as much authentic as it was in birth.
Cesis history and arts museum
Cesis Baznīcas laukums 1
Located in old Medieval castle, museum holds fine expositions about Medieval times. Cesis was center of Livionian Knight order. Though out the last years museum has been improved for more attendants. If you want to feel a real Medieval castle you must visit Cesis.
Ventspils Jāņa iela 17 inside the Medieval palace
Another history museum in Medieval castle is in Ventspils. Its one of the most modern state of the arts museums in Latvia. You can enter the castle dungeon and run various smart computers.
Liepaja War Port prison museum
Liepaja Invalīdu iela 4 Karaosta (War Port)
Liepaja war port was home of Russian and Soviet Baltic war fleet. If you brave enough you can visit ugly Soviet war prison and even spend some time in a dark dirty cellar. Its a authentic war prison that now operates as a museum.
Liepāja History Museum
Kūrmājas prospekts 16
Museum covering the vast and rich history of the port town of Liepaja.
Mark Rothko Art Center
Mihaila street 3, Daugavpils
The famous artist Mark Rothko was born in Daugavpils, Latvia. To his honor the site of the enormous Daugavpils fortress has been turned into arts and exhibition center. A place worth to see in the Latvia’s second biggest city.
Best book shops in Riga
Looking for places to find books in Riga? There is some selections.
Largest book store containing Latvian literature as well as Russian and English literature are in Old Riga at Aspazijas bulvāris 24. There is also a many Jāņa Rozes book chain shops in Barona iela 5, Čaka iela 50 and in many supermarkets in Riga and rest of Latvia. For people interested in Russian literature there is Polaris book chain, in Stacijas laukums 2 in Riga Railway station, also in E.Birznieka-Upīša iela 5/7 and other places in Riga. But the biggest choice of Russian literature is located Jezusbaznicas 7/9 near the Science Academy tower and Jesus Trinity Church. Its the biggest Russian literature store in Baltic states. Also there is a place were you can buy cheap but very fine English literature in Robertsbooks at Dzirnavu iela 51. Its the best place were to find best English works for no more than 10 Euros.