Art Nouveau meets country charm in Latvia

As the country celebrates its 100th birthday, head to its historic capital Riga for stunning architecture, then to the countryside where Latvians live by the seasons and celebrate nature with pagan festivals

Is it Baltic or Balkan? I get asked this question almost every time I mention Latvia. Not many people have heard of the Baltic country or know where it is, but it is Latvia's centennial this year and there is much to explore in this undiscovered gem of northern Europe.

When I arrive in late August, as warm sunny days are transitioning into cool autumnal skies, I imagine I will find a sort of Scandi-Russia hybrid after centuries of rule by Germany, Sweden and Russia. There is some evidence of that in the sound of the language, the food and the neutral minimalism of modern Latvian design.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 08, 2018, with the headline 'Art Nouveau meets country charm in Latvia'. Print Edition | Subscribe