More than just magnets

  • 2010-02-17
  • By Ludmila Nikitina

COLLECTIBLES: Local handicrafts are made from amber, leather, linen and wool.

RIGA - In previous issues The Baltic Times has looked at the most famous sights in Riga. Continuing to guide you through, we’d like to mention that historical monuments of architecture have always attracted tourists, but one of the main forms of entertainment, of course, remains shopping.

People just walk in the shops looking for something for themselves, but usually we try to pick up a gift for friends and relatives.
What is most often brought home from different countries as a souvenir? Magnets, key chains, postcards, badges... In Latvia, these are also here, but we encourage you to pay attention to what would really please your loved ones. Did you know that Latvia, in ancient times, was famous for its craftsmen and artisans? The small streets of Old Riga are named after different professions. People engaged in handicrafts made an enormous contribution to the development of Riga, and engendered a cultural and ethnic heritage.

Taking up quite a small area, Old Riga holds a variety of historical evidence about the origin of the capital, the fate of the entire state and nation. Old houses, church towers, steeples, roosters which cast a watchful eye on the city, stone masks on the walls of houses, old cobblestones, which marked the pace of centuries - a lot of stories, legends, many destinies...

Going back to souvenirs, it is worth mentioning that only in Latvia can you buy so many wonderful handicrafts, which are known throughout the world. Amber and leather, linen and wool, ceramics and food products. Yes, food. Latvia has always been distinguished by the fact that it produces high quality and incredibly delicious food. Smoked fish and chicken, dairy products, bread and pastries, beer and Riga Black Balsam - all these products are in demand by locals and visitors.

Latvia is also very rich with amber. Amber products are sold everywhere: on the streets of Old Town, shopping malls, souvenir shops and bazaars. Amber jewelry bought as a gift for your beloved woman or friend is not only a memory lasting for many years, but also a sign of your affection and warmth that you give.

Wooden tableware, wicker baskets, ceramic candle holders, mugs, bells, leather wallets and covers – this is just a minor range of gifts which are offered by souvenir shops and dealers standing on the streets of Old Town. Pay attention to them; all this is good quality at reasonable prices.

Linen tablecloths, scarves, knitted gloves, socks, mittens and sweaters made of natural wool - another opportunity to buy useful things – at high quality and handmade. Sweaters cost from 40 - 50 lats (56 – 66 euros). All these items can be bought in souvenir shops, but if you want to save some money, go to Livu Square and the Central Market, where everything is sold at much lower prices.

Local Latvian beer is well-known for its good quality and is worth a try! The entertainment complex Lido sells its own beer, brewed there by Lido specialists. Here you can also find a honey beer. You’ll also find here the most delicious dishes of Latvian cuisine. This complex was created for family holidays and it is a must visit for tourists.

Take your car, or the train, to Latvia’s sea-side resort Jurmala. There are fishing villages and fish markets where you can find dozens of kinds of fresh smoked fish, ready to eat. Of course, fish is also sold in all grocery stores and markets.

In Latvia there are more than 40 different varieties of bread, among which are varieties of black rye bread which can be stored for 10 days. Exotic varieties with carrots, sunflower seeds, nuts and dried fruits, but in some stores you can find 10 kg gift loaves. Latvia exports rye bread to Sweden and other countries of Western Europe.