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Riga, the capital of Latvia, was founded around 1200 by German churchmen. The town was through the centuries under Swedish, Russian and German domination. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its old town and the many preserved and largely renovated Art Nouveau houses. The Baltic Sea beach and Jurmala is 30 minutes away from Riga and worth a visit. The Gauja National Park with stunning nature, small villages and castles is just one and a half hour away.