The National Library of Latvia, as featured in our newly released Wallpaper* City Guide

One thing not to miss in Riga

The National Library of Latvia is one of many highlights in our newly released Wallpaper* City Guide app

Riga may be medieval in origin, but its architectural fame is built on art nouveau heritage: the streets are a treasure trove of facades displaying the national romantic style. Since independence, almost all of the new builds, renovations and restoration have been the work of an emerging crop of highly talented local architects, the bigest story is that of the National Library, previously housed in several locations across the city. It finally moved into its new headquarters 23 years after the US-based Latvian architect Gunārs Birkerts initially submitted his blueprint.

The library’s expressive form was inspired by The Golden Horse, a story written by one of the country’s key figures, Rainis, which tells of a peasant boy scaling a glass mountain to rescue a princess. The tale symbolises the quest for independence, which was regained in 1991, the year that Birkerts finished the design, although it took more than two decades to fund the project. The 13 floors are arranged around a full-height atrium, and the interior colour scheme was gleaned from Lat banknotes, the currency that was replaced by the Euro in 2014. A large proportion of the four-and-a-half-million books and materials were moved on one cold winter’s day in 2014, when more than 14,000 people formed a chain and passed them by hand through the Old Town and over Akmens Tilts. Mukusalas iela 3, T 6736 5250.

To find out more about this great European City get our newly released Wallpaper* City Guide, a tightly edited, discreetly packaged list of the best a location has to offer the design-conscious traveller, whether you're staying for 48 hours or five days, visiting for business or vacation. Download the Wallpaper* City Guide to Riga here.