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Overview

  • 30 references 18 Confirmed & Positive
  • Fluent in English, Latvian, Russian; learning Spanish
  • 39, Male
  • Member since 2016
  • Insurance Product Manager
  • Master in Project Management & Finance
  • No hometown listed
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About Me

Innovation Manager. Cosmopolitan man. Decent gay. Believer in work everywhere. Art enthusiast. Nature observer. Intellectual learner. Spiritual seeker. Curious traveler. Mexico fan. Experiential gourmet. Emphatic listener. Old coffee fan. New non-smoker.

I am very open-minded person. I may ask question about allergies if I have time to prepare local food. Or question about snoring habits or body height to understand where is better to rest. Or questions about chronical diseases because people with diabetes, epilepsy or other issues may need special attention or care. Or questions about profession, hobbies or social media profiles. If you feel those questions are weird or too personal then it is better to skip the possibility to host each other.

For me Couchsurfing is about personal trust, polite hospitality and shared responsibility. Walks and talks are always good alternative instead of coliving! I cannot host always. Nearby my house there is a clean place with individual rental rooms starting from 15-20 EUR per night. The place is called "GOGOL PARK" https://goo.gl/maps/rtw2hWzahxRieaip8

If you want to know me better and to share some attachments you can contact me on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aikatar
Linkedin: http://linkedin.com/in/armandsjasevs

Why I’m on Couchsurfing

Make new friends, experience local culture from the inside and have fun with locals

Interests

I enjoy trips ✈️, movies 🎥, operas 🎭, books, 📚, parties 🙋🏼‍♂️, songs 🎧, workouts 🏋🏼, prides 🏳️‍🌈, paintings 🖼, meals🍴 and gifts 🎁

  • arts
  • books
  • architecture
  • photography
  • coffee
  • yoga
  • walking
  • nightlife
  • music
  • opera
  • history
  • languages
  • psychology
  • religion
  • volunteering
  • beaches
  • travel
  • gym
  • innovation
  • games
  • gayfriendly
  • heritage
  • cyckling

Music, Movies, and Books

I enjoy festival films, prominent operas, sticky songs, recognizable classical music, extraordinary art exhibitions, historical and philosophical books. Probably, for some people those are strange preferences. 🙈😉

Every year I watch films nominated for Academy Awards 🏆as “Best Picture” or “Best International Feature Film”, as well as I often dream about the visit of Cannes International Film Festival. I feel happy that in Latvia every September and October we have 2 film events - “Baltic Pearl” (http://balticpearl.lv/#/) and “Riga International Film Festival” (https://rigaiff.lv/en/) that provides an option to watch alternate films without going abroad. I have my favourite actors and film directors whose works I like the most, like Paolo Sorrentino (Italy), Pedro Almodovar (Spain), Francois Ozon (France), Martin Scorsese (US), Lars von Trier (Denmark), Xavier Dolan (Canada), Asghar Farhadi (Iran), Yorgos Lanthimos (Greece), Kirill Serebrennikov (Russia).

After films my second weakness is opera. 🎭 Before going to opera I usually try to read libretto and find more information about first recognition. My goal is to watch The Guardian Top50 operas (https://amp.theguardian.com/music/2011/aug/20/top-50-operas), plus operas with interesting background like queer love story opera “Hadrian” or lost-and-found opera “Motezuma”. In Latvia in June and December we have opera closing events, that is why it is good time to listen world known singers and enjoy the best arias. I love performances in Latvian National Opera house, especially if director is Latvian-Armenian professional Aik Karapetian or famous Latvia-born singers Elina Garanca, Kristine Opolais, Marina Rebeka, Aleksandrs Antonenko are participating.

To get new portion of sticky songs every year I watch Eurovision Song Contest. 🎤 Of course, I have my favorite bands and singers, like - Adele, Enrike Iglesiass, Ricky Martin, Alvaro Soler, Britney Spears, The Queen, Lady Gaga, Abba, or some Latvian music stars - Brainstorm, Intars Busulis, Aminata, Laima Vaikule.

I would be glad if I can recognize the most popular peaces of classical music 🎻 mentioned in The telegraph Top100 selection (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/classical-music/100-greatest-classical-music-pieces-time/). I love Vivaldi, Beethoven, Vagner, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich. In Latvia we have different symphonic music events. The most advertised events are Jurmala Summer Festival (http://www.jurmalasfestivals.lv) and Riga Spring Festival (https://www.rigasfestivals.lv/). The most popular local composers are jazz maestro Raimonds Pauls and expressive style guru - Imants Kalnins.

About books. I like philosophical, psychological and historical books. 📖 On Viasat History I watch documentaries based on novels written by British author Dan Jones. As well as I like books of Umberto Eco, Walter Isaacson, William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, Omar Khayyam, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gabriel Garcia Marques, Oscar Wilde, Plato, Anton Chehov, Vladimir Nabokov etc. I have read LGBT novel “The Front Runner” by Patricia Nell that made me cry. Sometimes I read epic fantasy novels (“A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R. R. Martin.) or self-development books (“I Am Enough: Mark Your Mirror And Change Your Life” by Marisa Peer).

- -
ABOUT CULTURE IN LATVIA 🇱🇻

VISUAL ART OF LATVIA
In 2007 Mara Lace, the director of Latvian National Museum of Art, has started to build Latvia’s Cultural Canon where the most important art works are included https://kulturaskanons.lv/list/?l=4#visual-arts. The list is not completed - alive and foreign artists are not mentioned there. The most famous local painting, so called Mona Lisa of Latvia, is the artwork “After Church” created by Janis Rozentals. There are many other masterpieces that were presented outside Latvia. I have made my list of recommendations for painting associated with Latvia.
🖼Mark Rothko, “White Center (Yellow, Pink, and Lavender on Rose)”
🖼 Gustavs Klucis, “The swallows: diving”
🖼 Vija Celmina, “Starfield”
🖼 Karl Huhn, “On the Eve of St. Bartholomew's Night”
🖼 Janis Rozentals, “The Princess and the Monkey”, “After Church”
🖼 Vilhelms Purvitis, “Melting snow”
🖼 Rudolfs Perle, “The sun”
🖼 Johans Valters, “Bathing Boys”
🖼 Rihards Zarins “Poet’s tomb”
🖼 Dzemma Skulme, “Folksong”
🖼 Niklavs Strunke, “Man entering the room”
🖼 Karlis Padegs, “Madonna with a machine gun”
🖼 Jazeps Grosvalds, “Old Refugee”
🖼 Kristians Brekte, “The Madonnas of Riga: Aleksandra”
🖼 Visvaldis Ziedins, “Mākslojums pēc Edgara Alana Po motīviem “(artist is called Salvador Dali of Latvia)
🖼 Maija Tabaka, "Portrait of actress Regina Razuma" (artwork was stolen in Sweden)
🖼 Ieva Iltnere, “Bibliomany”
🖼 Gints Gabrans, “Knife to cut up your arse with”
🖼 Boriss Berzins, “The Artist and His Model”
🖼 Ritums Ivanovs, “Erotic move” (artist called Andy Warhol of Latvia)
🖼 Gederts Eliass, “At the Well".
Most of those artworks are exhibited in Latvian National Museum of Art. Top100 treasuries of the museum are described in Delfi discover portal in Latvian language: https://www.delfi.lv/temas/100-dargumu-latvijas-makslas-muzeja

LATVIAN FILMS
In Soviet times filmography in Latvia had golden times. During the visit of former film studio "Rigas Kinostudija" you can find many examples of Latvian Hollywood ear. Even nowadays all films made by film director Janis Streics are very popular among Latvians, but one of his works - "A Limousine the Colour of Midsummer's Eve" is voted as all-time best Latvian film. I love all local films where legendary actress Vija Artmane (called Queen of Latvian Cinema and Theater) played main role. Classical Latvian films from Soviet times with English subtitles you can find here (subtitles work on laptop only, not on smartphones) https://www.filmas.lv/en/latvian-film-classics/#.
The renaissance of Latvian films continues from 2010 when government supported cultural activities to be ready for celebration of 100 year of independence in Latvia. Unfortunately, many good local films are not available in foreign languages. I have made my list of recommendations for Latvian films (links added if good quality video available for free in English or Russian).
🎬A Limousine the Colour of Midsummer's Eve//imdb 8,7 (EN https://youtu.be/0nKplrtJZL4)
🎬 The Crossroad Street //imdb 8,3 (EN: https://www.filmas.lv/en/latvian-film-classics/#crossroad-street)
🎬 Hedgehog in the Fog //imdb 8,2 (EN/RU https://youtu.be/ThmaGMgWRlY)
🎬 Long Road in the Dunes //imdb 8,1 (RU https://youtu.be/5M56g-QPZTI)
🎬 The Soviet Story //imdb 8,1 (EN https://youtu.be/v7IrB_6mX4k)
🎬 The Child of Man //imdb 7,9 (EN https://www.filmas.lv/en/latvian-film-classics/#child-of-man)
🎬 Four White Shirts //imdb 7,8 (EN https://www.filmas.lv/en/latvian-film-classics/#four-white-shirts)
🎬 The Servants of the Devil //imdb 7,6 (RU https://youtu.be/UL3NTbTgT0k)
🎬 Theatre //imdb 7,4 (RU https://youtu.be/jhnQMkIsXTM)
🎬 Documentarian //imdb 7,6
🎬 Dream Team 1935 //imdb 8,0
🎬 Bille //imdb 7,5
🎬 Blizzard of Souls //imdb 7,4
🎬 Homo Novus //imdb 7,4
🎬 The Sign Painter //imdb 7,4
🎬 Blow the wind //imdb 7,1
🎬 The mover //imdb 7,0
🎬 Gustav Klucis: The Deconstruction of an Artist //imdb 6,9 (RU https://youtu.be/2iRpX6Vz4Ls)
🎬 Version: Vera Muhina (LV https://youtu.be/qMaXcbm6XVU)
🎬 Escaping Riga: Sergei Eisenstein and Isaiah Berlin //imdb 6,8

LATVIAN LITERAL BOOKS
The popular Latvian books usually are plays for theater. Rainis is the most beloved local writer. His plays are very often on stage of different local theaters. Legendary theater director Eduards Smilgis has built his career as the best adopter of plays written by Rainis. In the list of top100 legendary personalities in Latvia (https://apinis.lv/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/100_latvijas_personibu-1.pdf) both, Rainis and Eduards Smilgis, as well as their trained actors are included.
In 2018 Latvians electronically voted for Top100 local literal books. Results are published here https://www.manabiblioteka.lv/lv100-gramatu-saraksts/
Not all books are available in foreign languages. I have made my list of recommendations for Latvian books translated in English.
☑️ Rainis “Joseph and his brothers” (Jāzeps un viņa brāli)
☑️ Aspazija. “Her lyrical prose” (edited by Astrida Stahnke)
☑️ Rudolfs Blaumanis "In the Shadow of Death" (Nāves ēnā)
☑️ Vizma Belsevica “Bille” (Bille)
☑️ Nora Ikstena “Soviet Milk” (Mātes piens)
☑️ Andrejs Pumpurs “Bearslayer” (Lačplēsis)
☑️ Vilis Lacis “The Fisherman's Son” (Zvejnieka dēls)
☑️ Mara Zalite “Five Fingers” (Pieci pirksti)
☑️ Anna Sakse “Flowers: Fairy Tales” (Pasakas par ziediem)
☑️ Anna Brigadere. "Spreedeets. A Latvian children's play in seven acts" (Sprīdītis)
☑️ Imants Ziedonis “Colorful tales” (Krāsainās pasakas)
☑️ Regina Ezera. "The Swings" (Šūpoles)
☑️ Janis Jonevs “Doom 94” (Jelgava 94)
☑️ Aleksandrs Čaks “Touched by Eternity” (Mūžības skartie)
☑️ Vaira Vike-Freiberga. “Linguistics and Poetics of Latvian Folk Songs”
☑️ Sergei Eisenstein “Screenplay: Ivan The Terrible”
☑️ Isaiah Berlin “The Hedgehog and the Fox”

☑️ Juris Zvirgzdins “The Book of Riga: A City in Short Fiction”
☑️ Vincent Hunt “Blood in the Forest: the end of the Second World War in the Courland Pocket” (Asinis mežā: Otrā pasaules kara beigas Kurzemes katlā)
☑️ Miervaldis Birze "Yet Icebound Rivers Flow" (Visiem rozes dārzā zied..)
☑️ Imants Lancmanis “Adored Dorothea” (Dievinātā Doroteja)
☑️ Gunars Jansons “Architecture of Turaida Castle, 13th-17th century”
☑️ Janis Krastins “Art Nouveau Buildings in Riga: A Guide to Architecture of Art Nouveau Metropolis”
☑️ Nilss Albergs and others “Koka Rīga”

One Amazing Thing I’ve Done

I have learnt how to swim when I was 30 years old

Teach, Learn, Share

Useful information about Riga and Latvia.

LATVIA vs FRANCE
Riga, the capital of Latvia, is often called the "Little Paris", but its seaside resort - Jurmala is known as “Northern Riviera”. There are different versions why the center of Latvia is compared with France. When you walk in Riga along romantic cobbled streets, decorated buildings, panoramic peninsula, spectacular riverside, spacious parks and monumental cemeteries you can feel that both countries have similar past experience and natural beauty.

*) In 16th century people in Paris and in Riga experienced Cristian conflicts and church interior demolishment - Bartholomew’s Night in Paris in 1572, Calendar Riots in Riga in 1584.
*) In 17th century literary heroes made their adventures - The Musketeers of the Guard in Paris, The Servants of the Devil in Riga.
*) In 18th century famous Venetian playboy Giacomo Casanova has visited both countries and spread love in the air for next generations.
*) In 19th century in Paris and in Riga were built triumphal arches associated with Napoleon Bonaparte.
*) In 20th century French and Latvian artists and citizens got addicted to the Art Nouveau and the Art Deco styles.
*) In 21st century after long wait period triangle-shape hi-tec buildings have been approved - Latvian National Library called “Light Castle” was opened in 2014 and Paris project “Tour Triangle” is planned to be completed in 2026.

You can add to this list your own version why Paris and Riga are similar... (368m Riga TV Tower vs 324m Eiffel Tower, Latvian National film award “Lielais Kristaps” vs International Cannes film festival award “Golden Palm”, AB Dambis peninsula vs Romantic Square du Vert-Galant, common graves of soldiers and celebrities in Riga Brethren Cemetery vs famous graves in Paris Père Lachaise Cemetery, former cabaret bar “Sea Pearl” in Jurmala vs Legendary Moulin Rouge Cabaret Show in Montmartre, Glass Pyramid near Riga Congress Hall vs Louvre Pyramid, fasade of Latvian National Opera&Ballet house vs Madeleine Church pillars in Paris etc.)

I.VIDEO STORIES
Expoza Travel. Main heritages in Riga (EN) https://youtu.be/RHcKjXERQwY
Art Nouveau in the Architecture of Riga (EN) https://youtu.be/23ihqRf6sBI
Wooden architecture of Riga (EN) https://youtu.be/fnWzCBbIoL8
Geography Now. History of Latvia (EN) https://youtu.be/3_kocBCsIbk
Mojo Travel. 10 reasons to visit Latvia (EN) https://youtu.be/F-icI_11rRs
Anne Anderson. Art and design in Riga. Part1 (EN) https://youtu.be/nsOUW9N2KM0
Anne Anderson. Art and design in Riga. Part2 (EN) https://youtu.be/9hPocYRx3Dc
Артём Разняк (Dameoz). 10 интересных фактов (RU) https://youtu.be/juAO45OC63E
Андрей Разыграев. Отпуск без путёвки (RU) https://youtu.be/dm4GFoe1YZ4
Маша Себова. Всё по 30 (RU) https://youtu.be/B-Tc0BTNMTQ
Алина Астровская. Орёл и решка (RU) https://youtu.be/j9c_blIsf6M
Марк Богатырев. По секрету всему свету (RU) https://youtu.be/qPLhgWdAAgU
Илья Варламов. 30 лет без СССР (RU) https://youtu.be/5kjLhVlJLK0

II.GOOGLE MAPS:
Riga Old Town and surrounding area (EN): https://www.nomadepicureans.com/europe/latvia/free-riga-walking-tour-self-guided/
Riga Art Nouveau pearls (EN) https://jugendstils.riga.lv/eng/JugendstilsRiga/6/
Riga Forest Park route (Mezaparks) (EN) https://jugendstils.riga.lv/eng/JugendstilsRiga/8/
Riga Wooden architecture (LV) https://www.laikmetazimes.lv/2017/07/31/koka-riga-eiropas-meroga-lepnums/
Riga Soviet and Foreign film places (RU) http://www.meeting.lv/kinomesta-v-rige---sherlok-holms-i-shtirlic-byli-tut.php
Riga Street Art map (EN) https://ej.uz/streetartmapofriga
Riga Jewish memorial places (EN) http://memorialplaces.lu.lv/memorial-places/riga-and-riga-district/
Riga famous Soviet time heritages (EN) https://www.liveriga.com/en/10980-the-academy-of-sciences
Riga Soviet time architecture: 1940-1950th (LV) https://www.laikmetazimes.lv/2016/01/18/padomju-arhitekturas-mantojums-latvija-stalina-ampirs-20gadsimta-50gadi/
Riga Soviet time architecture: 1960-1970th (LV) https://www.laikmetazimes.lv/2016/04/18/padomju-arhitekturas-mantojums-latvija-padomju-modernisms-1960-–-1975/
Riga Soviet time architecture: 1970-1980th (LV) https://www.laikmetazimes.lv/2016/06/13/padomju-arhitekturas-mantojums-latvija-padomju-modernisms-1970-–-1980/
Jurmala center arhitecture: Dubulti, Majori, Dzintari (EN) https://www.visitjurmala.lv/en/see-and-do/points-of-interest/architecture/center
Jurmala map: Dubulti (EN) map https://www.visitjurmala.lv/en/see-and-do/points-of-interest/routes-/old-dubulti/
Jurmala map: Bulduri (EN) https://www.visitjurmala.lv/en/see-and-do/points-of-interest/routes-/old-bulduri/
Jurmala map: Lielupe (EN) https://www.visitjurmala.lv/en/see-and-do/points-of-interest/routes-/lielupe-12590/
Castles and Manor Houses in Latvia (EN) https://goo.gl/maps/EkF7fgTSXibNcUXv9
Military heritages in Latvia (EN) https://militaryheritagetourism.info/lv/map?1
Working Churches in Latvia (EN) https://memorialservices.lv/en/on-the-map
Famous abounded places in Latvia (EN) https://goo.gl/maps/35z4a1etRgumjY8TA
Monuments to famous people and historical events (EN) https://latvijaspieminekli.lv/piemineklu-kartes/

III. MY FAVOURITES
A. Top5 places near Riga Center
1. House of the Blackheads and other heritages in Riga Old Town.
In 1764 Giacomo Casanova, 39-year old legendary bisexual serial lover, has visited Riga and has stayed here for 6 months. During his stay he has met Russian emperor Cathrine The Great in House of Blackheads, tried local herbal liquor - Riga Black Balsam and had several private parties, as well as he has seen main city heritages: Riga Castle used for prison and administration needs, Three Brothers complex, dwelling house of merchant Mentzendorff family, baroque-style city palace of town councillor Johann Reutern, Town Hall square used as market and guillotine, Dome Cathedral and 3 oldest churches with the weather cocks on the top (named by St. Peter, St. John and St. Jacob), strong fortifications system around the city - with 2,2 km red brick walls like fragment near Jacob's Soldier Barracks, 25 defensive towers like Powder Tower, 12 entrances like Swedish Gate and dug channel in 5-star shape. In 1857 the biggest part of defensive walls and towers were demolished to let Riga city grow and become more industrial. All peaces of the former fortifications are buried under hill Bastejkalns.

2. Art Nouveau Museum and Albert Street area.
Riga is the Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) capital of Europe because it has the biggest collection of houses built from 1900 till 1914. There are more than 800 houses built before WWI that have kept their Art Nouveau style and have not been remodeled. One of the most famous Art Nouveau architects is Mikhail Eisenstein, called as "the Gaudi of Riga". He has moved to Riga in 1897 after his marriage. He was working at Riga municipality and was responsible for road construction. Architecture was his hobby that’s why he has built only 19 rent houses in Riga. His Art Nouveau masterpieces were inspired by Paris 1900 Architecture Exhibition and by look of Latvian opera signers who visited private parties in his house on Valdemara Street 6, flat 7. His wife Julia has cheated him that is why Mikhail decided to divorce. After the separation the decorations of his buildings became simpler but the relationship with his only son Sergei Eisenstein has worsen. Famous architect was jewish with real name Moisha Aizenstein but he wanted to be promoted in Russian Empire that’s why he has changed full name. His state career was successful and in 1916 he got hereditary nobility title for himself and his only son Sergei. Father and son had different opinions about Soviet Revolution. Sergei moved to Soviet Union, became a film director and later got global recognition as "the Father of Montage" but Mikhail went to Berlin and lived there till his death. Mikhail Eisenstein influenced many Art Nouveau architects in Riga, including Konstantin Peksen, Eizen Laube, Reinhold Smeling, and Wilhelm Bockslaff.

3. Riga Brethren Cemetery and Freedom Monument.
The Brethren Cemetery is a unique phenomenon and the first memorial ensemble in the world. It has no prototypes. It expresses the respect and love for fallen heroes in the form of symbols and allegories. It is combination of green park, architecture and sculpture. The Brethren Cemetery is massive monumental sculptural work by outstanding Latvian artist Karlis Zale who also was the author of the Freedom Monument. When sculptor Karlis Zale has finished his major monumental sculptural works, he took a private plane to Paris and celebrated the end of projects together with his team. In 1937 he won Grand Prix during the International Exhibition in Paris and impressed several European artists with his style. For example, The Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin was influenced by Riga Brethren Cemetery. In 1942 after his death Latvian sculptor was buried in his built cemetery.

4. Zanis Lipke Memorial in Kipsala and Jewish places.
During WWII the Holocaust killed 70,000 people or 90% of Latvia's Jewish population. About 25,000 Jews from other European countries were brought to Riga to be murdered in Rumbula forest, in Bikernieki forest, in Salaspils camp or in Riga Ghetto. One the most famous local Jewish saviors was Zanis Lipke. He built secret bunker in his home garden and saved about 60 Jews from Riga Jewish Ghetto during Holocausts. During the renovation of territory Latvian cult architect Zaiga Gaile hided the bunker under wooden building that visually and conceptually evokes replica of Noach's Ark (or Dutch version of biblical boat - The Ark of carpenter Johan Huiberts) which could be considered as shelter of life. The shape of museum gives an impression that Zanis Lipke is Latvian hero like well-known Oskar Schindler, german businessman from Nazi party who saved 1,200 jews by sending them to work in the new factory instead of being killed in Auschwitz Death Camp. In 2019 Latvian film “The Mover" about Zanis Lipke was awarded as the best foreign film during one of film festivals in Israel. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEkktSuphQo

5. Old Believer Church-Museum and Riga wooden architecture.
Prayer house in Riga is the largest congregations of Old Believers in the world (about 25,000). Old Believers is an Russian Orthodox Christian movement that fled persecution in Russian Empire in the 17th century. The first Baltic Old Believer’s prayer house was established in 1660 near Daugavpils in Liginisku street. In Riga first community was founded after 100 years. In 1823 a wealthy trader Alexey Grebenschikov made generous donations in for the development of the Old Believer community. This donation helped to build massive monastery and stone church. Officially 10 years after his donation the community and new building were named as Alexey Grebenshchikov’s community. The church owns a rich collection of icons, books and manuscripts of the 15th - 19th centuries. He can be compared with famous philanthropist Alfred Nobel, know as "the dynamite king", who has established Nobel Prize for scientists and has financially supported Swedish church in France. Old Believers in Latvia were known as skilled hand-crafters. In Riga Porcelan Museum you can find the production of the largest Old Believer’s company - Kuznetcov Porcelan factory, in Museum “Koka Riga” you will see interior of 3 apartments in wooden houses and will get an idea how Old Believers lived in 20th century. They mostly lived in wooden buildings, as well as they were skilled in wood-based construction that’s why Old Believers helped to build wooden houses all around in Latvia. Despite fires and wars, Riga has about 500 wooden houses that are included in UNESCO world heritage list, in total 4,000 of wooden house are retained - more than any other European city. It is 35% of wooden buildings that Riga had in the 19th century. The most notable collections of wooden buildings can be found in the Grizinkalns district of the Riga city and across the river Daugava in Kipsala, as well as in renovated Kalnciema Quarter.

B. Top-5 places for half-day tours from Riga
1. Ethnographic Open Air Museum in Bergi.
It is one of the oldest and largest open-air museums in Europe. The museum is located in a picturesque place near Lake Jugla. The idea was taken from Sweden where the open-air museum Skansen was established in 1891. In Latvia the creation of museum started in 1896 when the Riga Latvian Society organized a large-scale Ethnographic Exhibition. More than 8,000 exhibits were presented there, including wooden houses, books, paintings, jewelry, and clothes. Later in 1924 part of those items became the basement of newly founded Open Air Museum. Nowadays the myseum is considered to be a monument to the Latvian lifestyle in its landscape and architectural aesthetic expression. This place has the fairest “Latvian spirit”, because here you can meet local craftsmen, buy country souvenirs, as well as learn about folk traditions in everyday life and during the solstice celebrations. Open-air museum consists of 118 wooden buildings that tell the story of the life of farmers, craftsmen and fishermen in the Latvian countryside from the end of the 17th century to the middle of the 20th century. In the museum you can also find a house of Livonian fishermen and a farm of Russian Old-believers in Latgale, southwest part of Latvia. The Father of Latvian folksongs, Krisjanis Barons, many years was collecting national songs. He visited similar wooden dwelling houses and talked with many Latvian families. In 1858–1859, when Krisjanis Barons was 24-year old guy, he walked 1,000 km from Tartu (Estonia) till his hometown Dundaga (Latvia). Currently this tour called “Barona taka” is created as 17-day cultural cycling tour.

2. Summer Palace of the Dukes of Courland in Rundale.
It is a magnificent baroque-style royal palace with a regular French garden. From 2021 the palace and park are included in UNESCO World Heritage list. Rundale Palace was built as result of love story between Duke of Courland Ernst von Biron and Russian empress Anna Ivanovna, that is included it Top100 the greatest love stories in the history https://informaxinc.ru/100/100-velikih-istoriy-lyubvi/. Dukes of Courland lived in this residence less than 30 years. In 1795 Catherine the Great bought Duchy of Courland and Semigalia, as well as she incorporated it in the territory of Russian Empire. The last Duchess of Courland, Dorothea von Medem, was daughter-in-law of Ernest von Biron. She was very popular all around the Europe. Many men and ladies were inspired by her natural beauty, intelligence and fashion style. She could be Marilyn Monroe of 18th century. Her story and portraits are combined in the book “Adored Dorothea”. The book is published by Imants Lancmanis, Latvian art historian and former longtime director of Rundale Palace Museum.

3. Memorial Ensemble to Nazi Victims in Salaspils.
Nowadays this former Nazi camp is a poignant memorial, complete with giant brutal-style monuments. It is an example of the synthesis of architecture and sculpture of international scale and significance. Memorial Ensemble in Salaspils is included in Latvian Culture Cannon. During WWII staying in Salaspils camp was full of painful experience and different challenges. Local writer Miervalis Birze, who sometimes is called as Latvian Hemingway, described his personal experience of living in Salaspils camp in the book "Yet Icebound Rivers Flow" ("Visiem rozes dārzā ziedi..."). When local scultors presented an idea of Salalspils Memorial Ensemble, they have combined both - memories of real victims and modern construction examples of Oscar Niemeyer’s buildings in new city Brasilia. The style of Brazilian architect became popular in Soviet Union after year 1963 when he has received Lenin Peace Prize. Oscar Niemeyer was known as “Poet of Curves”. In Brasilia he has created the buildings like Congresso Nacional (federal government building), Palácio da Alvorad (president residence), Catedral Metropolitana de Brasília (Catholic cathedral), Palácio da Justiça (Ministry of Justice).

4. Turaida Museum Reserve in Sigulda.
The name Turaida means “God’s garden” in the language of the ancient inhabitants, the Livonians. Turaida Museum Reserve is known for its triumphant panorama, beautiful surroundings and history. Turaida Castle is one of the archeologically most investigated medieval monuments in the Baltic States. Latvian architect Gunars Jansons has spent his life to create the virtual model of medieval castle and to renovate remaining ruins. In his book “Architecture of Turaida Castle, 13th-17th century” all founding are well described. In this romantic nature park of river Gauja Latvian version of Romeo & Juliet tragical lovestory took place. In the autumn of 1620 gardener Victor wanted to marry orphan Maija. Unfortunately, beautiful girl was murdered by Polish soldier in Gutman's Cave. She died young at age of 19 years as cut rose. You can find her tomb near Turaida castle. In Latvia there are poetic novel "A Love Stronger Than Death", local opera “The Rose of Turaida” and ballet “Maija” influenced by this legend.

5. Jomas Street Promenade and beach in Jurmala.
Jurmala is a resort town, which is well known for its natural curative features - pine forest, wide sandy beach and coastal dunes. Jurmala is one of Top3 places nearby Riga where celebrities prefer to live, other areas are - Baltezers and Mezaparks. In Jurmala wooden summer cottages, built in the beginning of the last century, rich decorated with carvings successfully co-exist with the more recent stone buildings of hotels and private villas. Two legendary Latvian writers Rainis and his wife Aspazija lived in Jurmala before WWII. Janis Rainis was considered for the Nobel prize in literature in 1920th but due to political conflicts his candidacy was not submitted. In the same time his biblical play “Joseph and His Brothers” became popular in German speaking countries (translation was done by his wife Aspazija). The birthday of Rainis (September 11) and his death-day (September 12) every year are celebrated as Poetry Days. Since 1965 Poetry Days have been one of the most important cultural events that brings together poets and poetry lovers, both allowing listeners and readers to enjoy this nice tradition.

C. Some great destinations for weekend trips with overnight stay
Liepaja, Kuldiga, Cesis, Jelgava, Daugavpils (more quite, without nightlife - Ludza, Aluksne)

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