St Peter’s Church in Riga, was built before 1209 (the year it was first mentioned in the records). More building work was done in the 13th, 15th, and 17th centuries, but it was heavily damaged in a fire in 1721, and then again in artillery fire in 1941. Reconstruction was carried out after WW2 which finished in the 1990’s.
It costs money to have a looksie inside, where there was an interesting art exhibition as well as fancy church interiors. It also costs to head up to (near) the top for a great view over the old town and the river. For three of us it was a cool 27euro which seems a bit steep. It was also super cold and rainy when we were up there.
I had heard good things about the Riga Central Market, so we went for a visit. It’s quite fun to wander around and see the Autumnal gourds and squash. They were pretty crazy looking, we only get the sanitised ‘perfect’ looking ones. There were also lots of stalls outside selling berries and mushrooms, and ladies were carving the imperfections out of them.
It’s also quite interesting to see the building that houses the market, as it is reused German Zepplin hangars, and was built in the 1920’s. It was, apparently, included in the UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998. It was busy and full of local women, rather than tourists which on some levels in nice but on other levels makes me feel like I’m not supposed to be there. And it was one of the few places where labels and signs weren’t in English which made it harder to know what we were looking at.
We headed across the bridge and over the Daugava River to the National Library of Latvia, which is housed in an odd looking building which seemed a lot more attractive on the architects sketch. It is known as Gaismas Pils or Castle of Light, the Library was founded in 1919 but construction didn’t start on this building until 2008. I was pleasantly surprised that you could just wander around like bumbling tourists.
They have a campaign called, A Special Book For A Special Bookshelf. People donated books that were personally meaningful to the Peoples Bookshelf (that’s it above). New donations will supplement the ones from 2014 when Riga became European Capital of Culture, when people formed a ‘chain of book lovers’ around the library.
Whilst in Riga, we popped into the Fashion Museum. It’s quite small, and cost about 7euro each. The exhibition on when we were there was ‘The Secrets of the East. Western Fashion and China’, that’s closing on Oct 16th. There was some Chinese fashion, and Chinese themed objects such as horoscopes and hexograms (to get your fortune). But the point of the exhibition was to explore the influence of Chinese fashion on Western culture, particularly in the early 20th century.
Apparently, in the 1930’s and 40’s a lot of people left Russia and emigrated to China (don’t you always forget that Russia is near Asia?). One of them was Aleksandra Gramolina who was a fashion designer in Shanghai before moving to Riga in the 1950’s to become director of the Riga Fashion House.
There were also a few examples of fashion gone crazy; an actress with a 17.7inch waist, x-raying childrens feet to get their shoe size, and (of course) Chinese foot binding.
I just got back from Riga, Latvia, and am putting together my photographs. But I’ve got a few I can show you quickly of interesting Rigan graffiti.
First is the graffiti in our apartment block. We went Air BnB, and stayed in a real, creepy, Soviet era apartment. The actual flat inside was fine but the corridor and stairs were a bit grungy. Anyway, it was covered in ‘modern communication tactics’, you really can’t say they were ruining the wall.
We headed out to Miera Ielas or Peace Street, so named because there is a cemetery at the end (and there used to be a hospital at the other so you started and ended your life on peace street). Now it’s full of hipster bars, although only on one side of the street, the other side just seems quite derelict. The gentrification of the area has not been lost on our street artist friends.
On the side of a pizza place where we had lunch was some cute rainbow, liberal graffiti with messages of love and unicorns. It made me think Riga must be some liberal bastion but then it’s more likely that this is a reaction to more common right-wing conservatism. Well I dunno, I was there for four days…
I am heading off to Riga, Latvia with mum and sister. I am very excited. I’ve never been to Latvia before and I wouldn’t have picked Riga myself so might not have ever gone there if mum hadn’t picked it. As of yet I’m not sure what we’re going to get up to, we’re only there for 4 days including travel days. But the weather looks quite British. The forecast is for about 13 degrees and cloudy.
Clothes wise I’m taking 2 pairs of jeans (including the pair I’ll wear on the plane), 3 t-shirts, 2 long sleeve tops, 2 dresses, pajamas, and underwear. We’re only taking hand luggage but it all fits in to my rucksack easily. Actually, I have a nice amount of space to fit any purchases I make!
I’m also taking a couple of books, toiletries (in a clear plastic bag when packed), passport, euros, travel insurance, purse, keys. I’ve got 2 film cameras (and I’ll take my digital camera and phone) and a couple of little notebooks. The notebooks are because I’ve been quite into scrap booking my trips recently, I’m going to take them with me so I can roughly plan which pictures to use.