Walking on roofs and clouds. Bird's eye view of Rīga
Closer to the sky
Although Riga is decorated by several steeples of churches, the only available viewing platform is at St. Peter' s Chruch Tower. Lift operator Andžejs takes us up, that is 73 meters from the ground. Long ago Andžejs stopped counting how many trips he has to go up and down. Up there, Riga widens on all sides as a skirt of a fancy lady. Old Riga tiling towards white clouds, the great Daugava flow towards the asphalt heated by the sun, pale grey buildings towards the richness of green gardens and parks. And, there it is, those private roof terraces hidden from pedestrians.
What a sound! Everlasting rumbling from the Freeport, shoutings from Old Riga workers, sounds of a saxophone coming from The Town Hall Square, the edgy murmuring of car sounds on The Stone Bridge. This city orchestra calms down, Riga is alive.
In summer, St. Peter's Church Tower is open to 18:30 pm. Closed on Mondays. Entrance fee – 5 lats.
Almost a walk by Riga roofs
A roof terrace or at least a glazed upper floor is a dream of every metropolis, it's an exotic decoration. Upper floors of "Albert Hotel" and "Hotel Islande" are available for visitors. Also we must not forget the 26th flor of "Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija", formerly known as the legendary Soviet Union hotel "Latvija".
Our Riga sightseeing expedition stops by "Galleria Rīga". Up there, on the 7th floor, we can experience a walk by the roofs, at least, in our thoughts. It might not be exactly the view from above, rather some scenes from Karlsson-on-the-Roof where several greyish red or brown roof humps, chimneys and attic windows appear.
A restaurant on the roof terrace is open. Be sure, nobody will turn you out if you just want to greet The Fredom Monument or to take a picture of Riga roofs.
Entrance is free of charge.
Tower that „grows up” by four centimeters
It’s the Television Tower that reaches by four centimetres in summer heat, but in winters it shrinks back to its form. Besides, it’s swinging almost unnoticed. A trip to Zaķusala is worth taking. The smell of newly mown grass and The Island Bridge left behind allows to keep an illusion that the city is way behind us. The interior of the Television Tower is a value itself making us to believe that time machine really exists.
„Everything is from the 1980ies,” smiles our guide. Once fancy-looking, brown tiles remind of those years together with extreme luminaries, furniture and insulated glass windows used in the state for the very first time.
In any case, it’s the highest place where one can view Riga from bird’s eye. Currently, the Tower is the highest in EU which is 386 meters. Viewing platform rises to 98 meters in height. Though, the view can be seen through a quite blurry glass. At the same time, Riga’s Hydroelectric Power Plant, Freeport of Riga and the slim tower of Thermo Electric Station-2 (TEC-2) can be sighted. Even Sigulda bobsleigh track if the weather is good.
In summer, TV Tower is open to 20:00 pm. Entrance fee is 2.60 lats. Discounts for students and seniors. Group tours should be booked in advance.
Sunrise on collective farm house „shoulders”
Recently, the new viewing platform of Latvian Academy of Sciences (LAS), also known as collective farm house, is open on the 17th floor. While having a brief talk with the person on duty, we find out that it’s best to leave our bicycles outside rather than just putting them at the lobby. Another great view appears at the platform. Central Market activities, train rows on The Iron Bridge and roofs from Moscow Suburb wooden houses.
We have good news. This place is open to 22:00 pm. The platform is worth visiting when the sun comes down. Actually, nobody really cares if you stay there a bit longer walking around with your lover or just drinking some sparkling wine.
Viewing platform of LAS is open to 22:00 pm. Entrance fee is 2.50 lats.
Castle of Light – a view to 2014
Soon to be opened, The National Library of Latvia, so called Castle of Light, will be a whole new place where Riga can be seen from every aspect. Then, Old Riga towers and city houses up to the horizon will appear from Daugava left bank.