Riga

George Armitstead statue

  Riga canal next to the Opera     more than a year ago
Although the British are perhaps better known in Riga as the loud lads wearing outrageous costumes who insist on observing their nostalgic custom of getting completely wasted by 23:00 (note: pubs are open quite late in Riga, especially at the weekend), one Brit in particular has left a good and lasting impression on the city’s inhabitants. George Armitstead (1847 - 1912) was born in Riga and after studying abroad in Switzerland and even Oxford, he eventually returned to Riga where his wealthy family owned businesses and properties. He was elected mayor of Riga in 1901 and presided over an unparalleled period of construction, reform and prosperity until shortly before his death in 1912, when he was finally awarded honorary citizenship of the city he transformed. A bronze statue of Armitstead, his wife Cecile and their dog was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in the Latvian National Opera gardens in 2006.

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