Farm Museum of Yesteryear in Riga – Cosmos Tour

By sandra. Filed in Cosmos Jewels of the Baltic Tour, Europe, History, Latvia, Museum, Uncategorized  |  
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The Ethnographic Open-Air Museum on the shore of Jugla Lake near Riga, Latvia is an outdoor exhibition of 16th-19th century farms, churches and a country inn (which also functioned as a community center for weddings, funerals, schools, etc.) offering a glimpse into life in the countryside. The plan was to establish a farm from the four regions, Kurzeme, Zemgale, Vidzeme and Latgale. In 1932 the museum was opened to the public and by 1939 there were 40 buildings erected. Today 118 buildings are on display.

We learned there that in the 18th century in Latvia,  amazingly, 60% of the population could read and write due to home instruction.When visiting here you will learn all about the properties of thatched roofs, which were reputed to last about 50 years (what do we have that good today?). Okay so they weren’t waterproof, but if they got the pitch to at least 50 degrees, the water ran off quickly enough. And there were air pockets for insulation.

You can see their ingenious 12′ pole handle for rocking a cradle and the baby walking ring. Children and the elderly slept on the fireplace!
There were warm rooms for the winter and cool ones for the summer, saunas (for the weekly bath, birthing babies or preparing the dead), hay huts, cattle sheds, grain threshing  rooms, storage sheds, beehives and a windmill. And they fed their “pet” garden snakes some milk in a feeding bowl made out of a rock.
During Soviet times, this museum represented more than a museum. It was somehow a beacon to the population of when they were free – and to go there was an escape from Soviet life to when times were better. The Soviets were not happy about this as it reconfirmed old history when they wanted to erase old history to form a new order.

Each June the Latvians held a country fair there where they would sing folk songs. These songs became part of what was called the Singing Revolution which eventually led to the independence of Latvia and the Baltic States. In fact, the first time the National flag was raised was in this museum.

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