Thursday, September 25, 2008

Zelta Part Two

Day 198
After some oatmeal for breakfast I went for another walk around Riga before heading to the city Cathedral. This cathedral was really pretty. For some reason several of the tombs had coins all over them. Most of them were so old that you couldn’t make out more than lumbs for the carvigns. There were also no signs about who they were. I don’t know why some had coins on them and others didn’t.

In the cloisters there were bits and pieces that had been found during different excavations. There was also a very large German tour group that seemed to enjoy walking in front of my camera whenever I went to take a picture.

Next door was the Latvian History Museum. Each room had a book type thing in English, but not really an explanation of the individual objects. This made me very curious as to why there were six mummified hands spread throughout the exhibits.

The Romans had some contact with the early Latvians, but not much. During the medieval ages Riga was a small market town with a harbor. Eventually the town came under Germanic control. There was no Germany at this point. Latvia was westernized and introduced to Christianity. Riga became a trade hub between Russia and the Germanic states, very little was actually produced here. St. Christopher, who is the patron saint of travelers, is also the patron saint of Riga.

During the Reformation the bishops lost control of the city and a town council was created. Not much longer the Livonian war began. This was a lengthy fight for land between Russia, Denmark, Sweden and Poland. In 1583 Latvia fell under Polish control, but in 1621 Sweden took over.

In the 17th century the Russians came. There was a lot of animosity between the various groups. In fact, one of the girls working at the hostel is of Russian decent, she considers herself Russan, not Latvian, despite the fact that her parents were born in Latvia as well.

Then something changed in 1868. People felt a renewed interest in their heritage; this is known as the National Awakening. In 1901 Riga had its 700 year anniversary as a city. Art Nuovo buildings became all the rage.

After this the museum began to repeat much of what I had learned at the Occupation Museum. During the world wars much of the museums collections were moved to either Russia or Germany. About half never returned.

The museum was closing and I headed to the central market. The building is a Soviet monstrosity that looks more like a train station than anything else. Everything here is super cheap though and I picked up some more pasta and some water for almost nothing.

Back at the hostel I read Attonment while I made dinner. After eating I went to the bar to be social and to write a bit. There were a couple of British stag parties there. In fact, for most of the night I was the only girl around. I ended up spending most of the evening talking to a guy from Nottingham. Eventually I called it a night and went to sleep.

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