Learning together to improve oral health and quality of life
ADEE - Association for Dental Education in Europe
Rīga is one of the largest cities on the shores of the Baltic Sea and this year it is proud to be the European Capital of Culture. Rīga is Latvia’s capital city offering a rich cultural life and is a whirlwind of beautiful and historic sites, from the fast flowing waters of the breathtaking Daugava River to the UNESCO World Heritage Site at the city’s historical centre as well as its amazing art nouveau architecture.
Rīga, founded over 800 years ago, is one of the oldest cities in Northern Europe, established in 1201 by the German bishop Albert from Bremen. During the 13th century Rīga was a stronghold for German crusaders who came to this land to baptise people and to occupy territory. Over time the city turned into a regional center for commerce and culture. It joined the Hanseatic league and became the largest city in the Confederation of Livonia.
Rīga’s history has never been easy. Over the course of its 814 years it has been governed by the kings of many countries. Goodness only knows how many times the flags above the tower of Rīga’s castle have changed. Locals even compare it with multiple marriage.
At the beginning of the 18th century Rīga fell into the hands of Russian czar Peter the Great. Prior to this it had previously been ruled by Sweden. Peter the Great considered naming Rīga the capital of all Russia but, because the construction of what was to become St.Petersburg had already begun, Rīga was left with a title of the second city in the Empire. Despite this Rīga has always been a cultural metropolis for the entire region. Because of its geographical location and ethnic composition the city has been influenced by Latvian, German, Russian, Swedish, Polish, Jewish and many other cultures – all of these have formed the face of Rīga we see today.
A good reflection of the city’s turbulent history is provided by its main street – Brivibas Boulevard. Initially it bore the German name of the region it leads - Lievland, then Russian Emperor Alexander. During the turbulences of WW I it was named after Kaiser Wilhelm, Freedom, Revolution, then during Latvia’s first period of independence again it was known as Brivibas or Freedom’s Street to became Hitler’s Strasse, then Lenin’s Street and then, once again, hopefully this time for good – Freedom Boulevard,...
Over the course of the centuries Rīga has been home to many famous people including Richard Wagner, Johann Gottfried Herder, Sergei Eisenstein, Michail Barishnikov and Gidion Kremer to name just a few.
Modern Rīga is a city of great character and resilience that has emerged from a tumultuous 20th century to be the shining star on the Baltic stage.