Founded in 1201 by a bishop from Bremen, its company included many merchants. Under the first settlers, Riga quickly developed into an important trading city and joined the Hanseatic League very early on. The rulers of Riga changed until the city fell to the Russian Tsar in 1721. As an important Baltic port, Riga grew to over 250,000 inhabitants by the end of the 19th century. The wealth of the inhabitants of that time is reflected in the magnificent Art Nouveau facades that were built until the beginning of the First World War. After the end of the war, Latvia declared itself an independent republic, but became part of the Soviet Union again in 1940. It was not until 1991 that Latvia regained its independence with Riga as its capital.
Originated from a small fishermen village, for centuries Riga has been an important part of the trade chain between Russia and Western Europe. A lively crossroad of cultures and backgrounds for over 800 years, the historical centre of Riga has accumulated an impressive cultural baggage and today is justly included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage list.