Riga, the capital of Latvia, is situated on the Baltic Sea coast on the mouth of the river Daugava. Riga is the largest city in the Baltic States. The Historic Centre of Riga has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city is particularly notable for its extensive Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) architecture, which UNESCO considers to be unparalleled anywhere in the world. The Dom Cathedral, the largest church in the Baltic States. Built in the 13th century, it was modified several times in its history. It has a magnificent organ that dates from 1844.
Riga is located at the site of an ancient settlement of the Livonians, an ancient Finnic tribe, at the junction of the Daugava and the Riga River, at one point forming a natural harbor called the Riga Lake, neither of which exists today. It is believed that the name of the river gave Riga its name. The modern founding of Riga is regarded by historians to have begun with the arrival of German traders, mercenaries and religious crusaders in the second half of the 12th century, attracted by a sparsely populated region, potential new markets and by the missionary opportunities to convert the local population to Christianity.