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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm perfectly aware that most of the great cities in the world could be called a "cities of architecture" yet still I decided to go with such apparently unoriginal name for a thread. That's because here I will mostly pay attention to Riga's buildings, will try to show them in their variety and beauty.

Short introduction for those who maybe don't know what and where Riga is:

It's a city in Northern Europe, capital of Latvia (one of 3 Baltic states together with Lithuania and Estonia).

Riga's population peaked at the end of Soviet times (909 000), but now it's decreased below 700 000 due to both negative birth/death ratio and massive economical emigration. Together with Riga's metropolitan area (suburban zone and satellite towns) population is around 1 mio.

Riga's founded back in 1201 and has always been multicultural city with mixing influences of German, Scandinavian, Russian cultures. Nowadays the largest ethnic group in Riga is Latvians (43%), followed closely by Russians (41%).

Here you see satellite view of Riga urban area where built-up areas are easy to identify. The scale of this map is about 30x40 km.



Few overall views comes first.

1. Riga soon before landing in Riga airport, through airplane's window.



2. Old Town. Riga is mostly is advertised for it's Old Town, and it is beautiful, however it is only a small fraction of all this city can offer. Don't make that mistake when visiting Riga - walk around Old Town and then think that you have seen Riga.



3. Between the spires of Old Town you can find there also a chimney of large cruise ship. Riga is the port city and quite many cruise ships are coming here in summer months, as well as it has regular ferry connection with Stockholm.



4. Daugava river plays an important part of creating Riga's cityscape. Thanks to it, Riga has it's recognizable beautiful skyline. Imagine if there would be no river and all this area would be all built-up... The effect would be far from the present one, wouldn't it?



5. One of the most idyllic places in Riga is square and garden at the Opera house.



6.

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, guys, I hope this thread will be able to entertain and interest you and to create some feedback reactions! Don't hesitate to ask if you are interested in something, I will try to answer if I'll be able to.

7. Another airplane shot. The historical center of Riga is layed out, when looking from this perspective - to the left side of Daugava river (actually it's right bank but we are looking to south), opposite to bridges. There hides around 3000 historical (and few modern ones as well) buildings from which best ones we will gradually disclose here. As well as the best ones of those another thousands which are hiding in Riga's historical neighbourhoods.



Let's go.

8. Impressive Neo-baroque building on Dzirnavu/Barona street corner (1901). One of the most productive Latvian architects Konstantīns Pēkšēns designed this building, which could be characterized somewhere between majesty and pomposity.



9. The same building. Barona street 11 is it's address.



10. Another work of Pēkšēns, much less pompous yet no less beautiful, a school building on Tērbatas street 15/17. It was the first of National Romanticism buildings in Riga - Latvian national architecture style. This building is especially interesting with exclusive materials used in construction - for example, travertine used in facade cladding was brought from Staburags cliff. It becomes even more unique when you know the fact that Staburags was sunked later when Soviets built a hydro power plant on Daugava - now this cliff is under water for decades.



11. Valdemāra street 23 is built in 1901, by Riga architect bureau "Scheel & Scheffel", after Berlin's architect Albert Giesecke drawings. In this building a wealthy Rigans has lived since beginning, in first Independence time even Kārļa Ulmaņa government ministers lived there. In 90ies, the building was turned into hotel but there are also some appartments - btw, to hire some of them costs 2000 EUR/month.



12. Lāčplēša and Skolas street crossing is beautiful place - this is calmer area just a bit off one of the most lively centre streets (Brīvības) and one who doesn't enjoy crowds and traffic noise can breath more freely here. Apparently Latvia's Northern neighbours Estonians are such people - because exactly the building on Skolas street 13 (orange one) they bought for their embassy back in 1921. And Estonia's embassy is still there today. The building itself is built in 1901, by architect Edmund von Trompovsky.



13. Ausekļa street 4 is one of the exclusive buildings in Riga's "Quiet centre" or Northern part of Riga centre, where is the largest concentration of posh Art Nouveau buildings. This Jugendstil beauty (originally built in 1899) is renovated few years ago and the prices of flats there aren't advertised but offered to millionaires personally. According to unofficial information, a flat in this posh building costs 1-2 mio USD.



14. More "regular" and simpler Art Nouveau example of Riga centre.

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Few classic's skyline photos of Old Town, in full moonlight:

15.



16.



17. The most essential core of Riga skyline is 2 main churches - the largest one - Cathedral (to the left) and the highest one - St Peter's church.

 

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Vecais, your pictures are beautiful, but not only that.

You´re explanations make the thread much more interesting than a normal one.

one question and forgive my ignorance: The language that speak the majority of the people in Riga is slavic or has any other origin?

And also: Many of the building look briliantly restored. How do you do it? have you received money from the european Union, the owners receive money from commercials agencies or any other way?

thanks for your picture again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you all!

one question and forgive my ignorance: The language that speak the majority of the people in Riga is slavic or has any other origin?
In Riga, there are 2 main languages co-existing: Latvian and Russian. Russian, as you know, is Slavic language, but Latvian belongs to Baltic languages group, which is presented nowadays only by 2 survived languages - Latvian and Lithuanian.

And also: Many of the building look briliantly restored. How do you do it? have you received money from the european Union, the owners receive money from commercials agencies or any other way?

thanks for your picture again.
Well, this is a thread where I post mostly carefully selected pictures of buildings which looks good, so mostly restored ones. I will show some neglected ones also, as there are many beautiful ones between them.

In overall, Riga centre and historical suburbs is far from being "brilliantly restored". Madrid centre is much more restored than Riga. Riga is more like comparable to Barcelona in terms of restoration level (in suburbs - worse, as there restored buildings are rare exception).

No, EU doesn't provide any financing for private building restoration, as far as I know. Mostly, buildings are restored for their owners finances, it happens mostly if it is some embassy, bank, hotel or apartment project developer. Currently there are just a few historical buildings on-going restoration in Riga centre, mostly by apartment project developer, because the crysis is over and real estate business is starting to revive a bit.
 

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I appreciate your explanations, Vecais.

Very interesting the coexistence of the two languages.

That´s always an enriching thing.

I imagine now the state of restauration of the city.

In Madrid they have the option of hanging big commercials so the owners of the buildings can pay with that.

In fact some times in special builginds there has been a case of prolonging a bit the restauration because it was good money the commercial.

anyway, very nice city and pictures.

When you have time please post more.

Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
18. Cēsu street 23 - large and charming pre-war tenement house in north-eastern part of centre, which previously falled apart is now renovated, modernized and waiting for it's new inhabitants. I'm happy for every historical building which gets renovated in Riga.

This building was built in 1908, and it represents the so-called "rational" Art Nouveau which is more minimalistic but elegant anyway. The architect is Konstantīns Pēkšēns which in overall has designed >250 (!!) buildings in Riga.



19. Elizabetes street 17 - this building in prestige Silent centre district has attracted a larger public attention recently because here the state has decided to buy a flat for ex-president Valdis Zatlers for about 700 000 EUR. Zatlers already lives there - currently renting the flat. Much discussions is raised in this context about the privileges of ex-presidents.



20. Facade details and erotic sculptures of the building. Not much is known about this building, except that it's built in 1898 by one of the greatest 19th Century Riga architects, German Heinrich Karl Scheel.



21. This Neo-Classicism building in the very centre (Brīvības street 38) is the place where state granted flats for previous 2 ex-presidents of Latvia - Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga and Guntis Ulmanis, they lives here. It's interesting that exactly in this building also the 3rd president of Latvia (1930-1936) Alberts Kviesis lived back in 30ies. So, it's definitely can be called an "ex-presidents' building". The building was built originally as a bank office in 1911, by architect Ernests Pole who got 37 buildings in Riga in his account. Besides ex-presidents, it has housed also several famous Latvian musicians and literates.



22. Art Nouveau building in Brīvības street 68 was built in 1903. Back then it was surrounded with low-floor wooden built-up and thus looked even more outstanding. But also now it's still one of (although many) impressive buildings in Riga centre. Interesting that it's 1st floor has historically housed a chemist's shop and still today there is a drugstore.



23. Facades of Dzirnavu street.



24. There is an option to take a ride with a retro tram through Riga.

 
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