European best destinations 2024 - Riga

Triumph Arch and the sound of a tennis ball meeting a racket at Viesturs Garden Park remind you of the exciting competition at Paris' famous Roland Garros tournaments. The venue once saw the formation of the very first sports clubs in Riga. The park still has the third generation of elms once planted by Russian Emperor Peter the Great. The park is also known as Song Festival Park as the first festival was held here in 1873.

7.60 hectares in size, Viesturs Garden Park is the oldest in Riga. It was set up in 1711 according to an order of Peter the Great. The Russian Emperor had chosen the area for his summer residence and a spacious garden. In 1841, the park was given to Riga City; since then the area held theatre performances, concerts and other events for local people. In the 1860s, a new restaurant was built here, as well as an open-air stage which saw the first All-Latvian Song and Dance Festival in 1873. From 1883 the park featured a skating rink and a slide for sledding in wintertime and an area for tennis in summertime. The park welcomed the Triumph Arch or Alexander Gate in 1936, and a group of sculptures in 1973 dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Latvian Song Festival. Today you can still play tennis here, listen to quacking ducks, or buy an apartment in one of the recently-built complexes.

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