The original fab four may have been the Beatles from Liverpool, but now Riga has its own fab four in the form of four distinct districts full of creativity and inspiration.
1. Miera Street Republic—peace, creativity, design
The Republic is situated in 19th—20th century buildings on Miera street, which is located in the so-called “quiet centre” of the city. This region has recently become one of Latvia’s main centres of cultural activity, with a reputation for its various creative initiatives that strive to improve Riga’s urban environment and achieve social or environmental goals by means of art, design and ingenuity.
Near the beginning of the quarter, one can find the “Taka” cafe—an unusual place which offers customers vegetarian dishes, as well as organizing cultural events, poetry readings, and other performances.
Another of the highlights of the Republic is the “Illuseum” tea room—a place with a touch of magic. Many of interior details recall the temples and sacred art of ancient times, others are visible only from certain angles, or with the help of 3D glasses.
If you happen to be in Miera Street Republic on Friday, don’t miss the opportunity to recycle a glass object—be it a jar, bottle, or something else – into original glassware. These wonderful transformations take place in “Buteljons”—a social enterprise that seeks to achieve environmental goals while providing a memorable visual experience.
Miera Street Republic:
10—39 Miera Street, Riga
2. Spīķeri Quarter—culture, art, party
On the banks of the Daugava River a wide range of events are held under the roofs of brick buildings that once served as warehouses a hundred years ago. Today, five of these buildings have been renovated to host some of the major cultural venues in town. Since the artistic expressions presented by residents of Spīķeri are quite diverse, it is very likely you will be able to find something that suits your tastes.
The first thing that must be mentioned is the Latvian Contemporary Art Centre or “Kim?” Every month Kim? Galleries host new exhibitions of Latvian and international contemporary art.
Then there is Dirty Deal—a creative initiative, that introduces a wide range of musical events, festivals, film screenings and avant-garde theatre events. In five years of existence, this union celebrating underground culture has outgrown the rebel age without sacrificing its playfulness.
One should not forget to visit the marvellous acoustic musical treasure box of the Spīķeri Quarter—Spīķeri Concert Hall. The hall regularly hosts concerts of a wide range of musical styles, film screenings, awards ceremonies, conferences and other activities.
3. Kalnciema Quarter—joy, delicacies, atmosphere
A stone’s throw away from the bustling city centre, shaded by apple trees, Kalnciema Quarter is an oasis of peace and gastronomy. Over the summer the Quarter hosts an open air stage for local musical artists, but life vibrates here all year round, mostly because of its regular fairs of Latvian handicrafts and an outstanding farmers’ market.
At the fairs exquisite fayre is provided by the Latvian culinary guru, chef Mārtiņš Rītiņš, while another gastronomically talented Martins—Martins Sirmais—has chosen the Quarter as the site of his celebrated restaurant “Māja”, offering excellent food in a wonderful atmosphere.
A pleasant evening can also be spent in an elegant little Italian wine store—Cafe Da Vinchi, that offers wines from small vineyards. With its friendly aura and renovated wooden architecture, Kalnciema Quarter realy is like no other part of Riga.
35/37 Kalnciema Street, Riga
4. Bergs Bazaar—chic, elegance, pleasure
The Bergs Bazaar was built at the turn of the previous century and today could be described as an historical pedestrian enclave inspired by the bazaars of the orient. The renovated zone is a peaceful oasis of luxury fashion and design shops and chic restaurants—all connected by open-air walkways.
Here within a single city block you can choose to celebrate the morning with a coffee and newspaper in the cosy French-owned cafe “Cadets de Gascogne” or have a cake in the elegant old-fashioned bakery “Kanēļa konditoreja”. You can have a pint at a specialized store that offers more than 100 different beers and ciders from the UK, Belgium and Germany or choose a subtle wine at the Ervins & Filles vintners.
When planning a visit to Bergs Bazaar, take into account that on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, a traditional outdoor Slow Food and eco-product market takes place. There is also a chance to purchase antique knick-knacks and if you can negotiate a price, you might become one Art Nouveau item richer.
83/85 Elizabetes Street, Riga