It is surprising, but of the three Baltic capitals, Riga offers the least dynamic and colourful image. It is generally perceived as a continental country despite its location on the sea, or almost, and as an industrial city, emerging from the Soviet era to develop business and to create a country with a high standard of living, elegant avenues, etc. These ideas are fading away, but the city must, nevertheless, not be judged by the sad and impersonal image of its airport. Located between a river, an estuary, the countryside and gardens, Riga reveals itself to be a place of unique "urban fabric", classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Its old district is neither surrounded by walls like in Tallinn, nor is it as large as the capital city of Vilnius, however, it does contain an impressive array of squares, churches and small streets from a bygone era. Its Gothic buildings of brick and stucco fašades recall those of Flanders and Northern Germany. During the Middle Ages, the city gained in prosperity and became a city of merchants and influential guilds. At the turn of the 20th century Riga became "the Paris of the Baltic": a crossroads for artists and artisans, where arts and the Art Nouveau of the time, inspired and developed buildings, streets and neighbourhoods to such an extent that today in Riga, a third of the constructions are of an Art Nouveau style. Beautiful and lively, the Latvian capital is a place to visit both in the winter and the summer, for the seasonal cold and Christmas lights in the winter and the beaches in the summer. The beach resort town of Jurmala, for example, among the dunes, the lagoons and the wooden houses, is absolutely splendid, it is the "Latvian Saint-Tropez" just 15 and a half miles from Riga. For some, it resembles the Californian town of Carmel, while for others it might be compared to the "pogosts" (wooden houses) of Karelia, or a child's toy house. For all, it is a stunning place which is worth visiting.