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Helsinki, Tallinn & Riga – an architectural treat

We’re excited to have launched a brand new tour for 2017 spanning across three different countries with fascinating histories and heritage; Finland, Estonia and Latvia.

We start with Helsinki, the largest city and capital of Finland, with a population of 629,000. It was founded in the 16th Century by a Swedish king. In 1747, the Swedish parliament made a decision to build a central fortress including a naval base in Helsinki. The ambitious fortification plans had to be scaled down a few years after the construction began, although it still took almost 40 years to finish. In May 1918, the fortress was renamed Suomenlinna (‘Castle of Finland’) to reflect Finland’s independence and it was annexed to the state of Finland. The fortress still stands today and since it is straddled across six of Helsinki’s islands, it is hard to miss. The development of the capital was catalysed by the 1952 Olympic Games, where it saw a rapid increase of visitors. Helsinki is also home to many other beautiful buildings and architecture; it was declared the ‘World Design Capital in 2012’.

The Suomenlinna fortress (‘Castle of Finland’)

The Suomenlinna fortress (‘Castle of Finland’)

 

Directly below Finland, across the Baltic Sea is Estonia. Tallinn, the capital city, has origins that date back to the 13th century, when the Toompea Castle was built by crusading knights of the Teutonic order. As many will tell you, Tallinn is a place of beauty. Our favourite place to visit is the Kadriorg Palace, which was designed to resemble the Italian palaces at the time. The three levelled palace features a mixture of architectural styles, including a banquet hall and winter garden that was added in 1993 to the rear façade of the palace.  A relaxing countryside drive from Tallinn brings you to Estonia’s culture capital, Tatru. The architecture and city planning is from German descent in the pre-independence period and so expect a big difference to Tallinn!

View of the red roofs of Tallinn old city and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

View of the red roofs of Tallinn old city and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Latvia is the final destination. It became independent from the USSR in 1990 and since then has developed into one of the busiest countries in trade; the Port of Ventspils is the busiest port in the Baltic States. Latvia’s capital, Riga, is the largest city of the Baltic Islands. Described as the ‘European Capital of Culture’, its architecture is astounding and diverse: Art Nouveau style buildings are often situated side by side with gothic churches dotted around the cities. Two nights here is enough to explore the city, including the riverside Historic centre on our walking tour. This UNESCO World Heritage Site celebrates Riga’s History as a meeting point for European countries. Riga, the cosmopolitan cornerstone of the Baltic, is the perfect place to end the holiday.

Heart of the Old Town in Riga, Latvia. House of the Blackheads is to the right, Saint Peter's church in the left side.

Heart of the Old Town in Riga, Latvia. House of the Blackheads is to the right, Saint Peter’s church in the left side.

Travel advice:

  • Helsinki has a very cold climate in winter so it is advised to wrap up warm. However, the summers are long and there can be up to 19 hours of sunlight a day, so make sure you check the weather before your trip.
  • Finland, Estonia and Latvia all use the Euro for currency.

Fact File:

  • 8 Days from only £799pp
  • Flight Time: 2 hrs 50
  • Time Zone: GMT+2

You can discover more here: https://www.rivieratravel.co.uk/european-tours/helsinki-tallinn-riga

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