Riga, Latvia’s capital, is set on the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the River Daugava. It’s considered a cultural center and is home to many museums and concert halls. The city is also known for its wooden buildings, art nouveau architecture and medieval Old Town. The pedestrian-only Old Town has many shops and restaurants and is home to busy Livu Square, with bars and nightclubs.
Edinburgh is Scotland’s compact, hilly capital. It has a medieval Old Town and elegant Georgian New Town with gardens and neoclassical buildings. Looming over the city is Edinburgh Castle, home to Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, used in the coronation of Scottish rulers. Arthur’s Seat is an imposing peak in Holyrood Park with sweeping views, and Calton Hill is topped with monuments and memorials.
Dhaka is the capital city of Bangladesh, in southern Asia. Set beside the Buriganga River, it’s at the center of national government, trade and culture. The 17th-century old city was the Mughal capital of Bengal, and many palaces and mosques remain. American architect Louis Khan’s National Parliament House complex typifies the huge, fast-growing modern metropolis.
Tokyo, Japan’s busy capital, mixes the ultramodern and the traditional, from neon-lit skyscrapers to historic temples. The opulent Meiji Shinto Shrine is known for its towering gate and surrounding woods. The Imperial Palace sits amid large public gardens. The city’s many museums offer exhibits ranging from classical art (in the Tokyo National Museum) to a reconstructed kabuki theater (in the Edo-Tokyo Museum).
Hartford is the capital of Connecticut. It’s home to the Mark Twain House & Museum. The 1874 mansion contains thousands of artifacts, including the desk at which Twain wrote his best-known works. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center includes the author’s Victorian house and many period furnishings, plus a garden. The broad collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art includes Renaissance and impressionist works.
Mexico City is the densely populated, high-altitude capital of Mexico. It’s known for its Templo Mayor (a 13th-century Aztec temple), the baroque Catedral Metropolitana de México of the Spanish conquistadors and the Palacio Nacional, which houses historic murals by Diego Rivera. All of these are situated in and around the Plaza de la Constitución, the massive main square also known as the Zócalo.
Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan, and is administered by the Pakistani federal government as part of the Islamabad Capital Territory. It is the ninth-largest city in Pakistan, while the larger Islamabad–Rawalpindi metropolitan area is the country’s third-largest with a population of about 4.1 million people.
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and home to Vanderbilt University. Legendary country music venues include the Grand Ole Opry House, home of the famous “Grand Ole Opry” stage and radio show. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and historic Ryman Auditorium are Downtown, as is the District, featuring honky-tonks with live music and the Johnny Cash Museum, celebrating the singer’s life.
Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, is bisected by the Vltava River. Nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” it’s known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock, which gives an animated hourly show. Completed in 1402, pedestrian Charles Bridge is lined with statues of Catholic saints.
Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, is known for its baroque architecture, seen especially in its medieval Old Town. But the buildings lining this district’s partially cobblestoned streets reflect diverse styles and eras, from the neoclassical Vilnius Cathedral to Gothic St. Anne’s Church. The 16th-century Gate of Dawn, containing a shrine with a sacred Virgin Mary icon, once guarded an entrance to the original city.