Riga is the financial, creative, and cultural center of Latvia. It is the capital and the largest city in Latvia, it is also the largest city in the Baltic States. The city lies on the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of Daugava, Riga has an population of approximately 640,000 inhabitants, or 1/3 of the population of Latvia. The city was part of many empires throughout history, each of which has left its mark on the city. It is famous for Art Nouveau and wooden architecture. Riga's historical center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Riga is famous for its world heritage-listed old town (Vecrīga) and city center, in which over 800 buildings — a third of all buildings — are of the Art Nouveau (aka Jugendstil) style of architecture and thus Riga is one of the best destinations to see this architectural style. Chiefly built in the first years of the 20th century, many of Riga's Art Nouveau buildings were created by ethnic Latvian architects unlike earlier buildings in the city. The Art Nouveau style involves intricate building facades, with carvings of flowers and mythological creatures, and ornate doorways and windows.
For tourists, the most interesting districts are Vecrīga (the UNESCO-listed Old Town) and the area around the nearby Freedom Monument, which do double duty as the setting of Riga's foremost historic sites and the center of its burgeoning nightlife.