Art

Insider's guide to Riga

Latvia is small but very sophisticated country with one of the most beautiful capital city in the world – Riga! More information what to see and do, and list of Top restaurants in Riga at www.LiveRiga.com
Reading time 10 minutes
Image House

Image House is the first concept store in Riga combining fashion, interior design and a cafe. There is not a single random thing here, everything that is presented in Image House is carefully selected and brought in by the salon owners, Grēta Gorjučko and Jānis Peide, who see their mission in acquainting the residents and guests of the city with the most interesting, original and stylish design works. In the store you can find such brands as Baum und Pferdgarten, Joseph, Olivia von Halle, Walk of Shame clothes, as well as furniture and designer items from Aytm, Gubi, Lee Broom, Poliform, etc. The brands represented inImage House cannot be found in any other store in Riga.

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Modernists

The only boutique champagne bar of exclusive varieties, not only in Riga, but throughout the Baltic States, is the brainchild of the couple of Santa and Mārtiņš Pīlēns, who are in love with sparkling beverages. Located in the centre of Riga, on Kr. Barona street, Modernists combines a bar, shop and an interior design salon. The range includes well-known varieties of champagne, and rare, carefully-selected “pearls” from small wineries. Mārtiņš Pīlēns is the holder of the honorary Ordre des coteaux de Champagne, which allows its owner to be a messenger of champagne all over the world. The champagne bar hosts tastings, meetings with famous sommeliers and some of the most fun parties in Riga.

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Restaurants and cafes in the quiet centre

Antonijas, Strelnieku and Dzirnavu streets, located in the “quiet centre”, are famous for the masterpieces of Art Nouveau architecture, turned into a real Mecca for gourmets. On Dzirnavu street you will find authentic Japanese cuisine in the style of the restaurant The Catch, the best macaroons in Riga in the ARBOOZ confectionery, the restaurant Zivju Lete, specializing in fish and seafood, the bistro Mr. Fox, which promotes slow food and gluten-free meals, as well as a completely new restaurant Chef’s Corner. On Antonijas street, gourmets will be attracted to one of the best Mediterranean restaurants in Riga, Riviera, and vegetarian Bhajan café. In turn, on Strēlnieku street we recommend visiting the restaurant Rasols, which has an unusual interior and a creatively rethought menu of the Soviet era; dining restaurant M’archers and Sienna, one of the coziest art- cafes in the city. On Elizabetes street you can find Vincents, premier gourmet establishments in Northern Europe. Its reputation has spread far beyond Latvia’s borders, with Prince Charles, Elton John, the Emperor of Japan and Heston Bluhmenthal among a very long list of prominent personalities and famous gourmands who have savoured the restaurant’s haute cuisine.

Bar XIII

Located in the city centre, in the Art Nouveau area. Following the best traditions of cocktail bars in the world, they offer fine drinks and an excellent menu of the chef, Reinis Strazdiņš, who has worked in Riga’s top restaurantVincents for 10 years. The concept and interior were developed in the traditions of the best bars in Europe. Here you can appreciate interior items from Berlin of the 60s and lighting fixtures made of brass from the works of Latvian designers of the 80s, who used to adorn the famous Rīdzene hotel. For cigar lovers and private conversations, there is a separate cigar room. In 2015, the institution received the Platinum Platter Awards as the best bar in Riga.

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Ķīpsala

Ķīpsala is a district of Riga, located on the eponymous island, with an area of about 2,000 square metres. It is located close to the left bank of the Daugava, separated from it by the Sound Sunds. It is connected to both banks of the Daugava by a suspension bridge. Ķīpsala is an ideal place for walks and getting acquainted with the wooden architecture of the early XIX century, created by famous architects Alfrēds Pilemanis, Konstantīns Pēkšēns, Eižens Laube, Reinholds Šmēlings, Mārtiņš Nukša and others. There are also some modern buildings, for example, rebuilt under the residential and office building complex of a former Gypsum Factory. The island has one of the tallest buildings in Riga, the Sun Stone (Saules Akmens), an exhibition hall, the Žanis Lipke memorial museum and popular restaurants Osta andHercogs, which have beautiful views of the Daugava and Riga.

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Žanis Lipke Memorial

During the World War II Žanis Lipke saved from death more than 50 Jews by hiding them in a bunker under his shed. The memorial building was designed to represent the living conditions of the people who hid there as close as possible. Here you will also find life stories of persons saved 98 by Lipke. The memorial allows you picturing the situation where 75 years ago people were ready to risk their lives just to save others. Since the original bunker was situated quite close to the reconstructed one, the exhibition gives nearly a perfect look at those dark times. Building is at the very centre of Ķīpsala’s wooden architecture. There is a wonderful view to the silhouette of the Old Town over the River Daugava, and a magnificent peace and silence, which you will never find in the city centre. Žanis Lipke Memorial will not leave you indifferent – the interior is designed in a way so that the visitors would feel the conditions of the saved Jews as good as possible. Chinks in the planks allow only for a weak daylight, the wood gives deep echoes of every step – the architecture and interior alone gives you a sufficient reason to visit the memorial.

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National Library of Latvia

Just a bridge span from Old Town, on the left bank of the Daugava, looms an extraordinary, culturally-significant edifice, the Castle of Light – the new National Library. The new library building houses a modern information centre and ample space for cultural and social events, offering multi- themed reading rooms and access to rare books and audio/video recordings, as well as the usual printed matter. Open to the general public for viewing is the [Latvian] Dainu skapis – the chest of drawers or file cabinet containing thousands of Latvian folk verse – the wise and witty dainas. A cabinet that UNESCO recognizes as having global significance and is included on the register for the program called World Memory. The library building has already become active in organizing various exhibits, concerts and conferences. Available here are a restaurant, cafe, WiFi, and the most splendid panoramic view of Old Town. The basic objective of the new structure is to accrue and preserve national and international literary works, securing access to them for the general public. Over four million units are now located here, mostly Latvian publications concerning Latvia and Latvians. Opened in August of 2014, the striking edifice is the masterwork of the world-renowned Latvian-American architect Gunārs Birkerts.

www.lnb.lv

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Kalnciema Quarter

A unique 19th century's complex of wooden buildings has now been renovated in Pārdaugava. A group of friends and associates are actively involved in a project of preserving the historic atmosphere of the quarter and adapting it to the dynamics of the 21st century. The buildings invite you to enjoy Latvian and European design, fairs, art exhibitions and workshops in the courtyards. The quarter's special feature is the old LADA cars to take you into the past. Sometimes the quarter offers international cuisine – sweet French scent, a taste of Spanish fish, Turkish sweets, Mexican spices, and other wonders. Regular fairs are also held here in which you can find good stuff to talk about and put in your bag while the kids are enjoying the merry-go-round. This is a great place to celebrate holidays, to roll eggs at Easter or mark Jāņi traditions in mid-summer. Here you can try traditional Latvian cuisine in a completely new way – either the spices or serving is different.

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Jaunā Teika Quarter

Jaunā Teika is a striking, smart area next to Riga’s main core – Brīvības street. Built in a historically legendary area, it’s where the industrial and creative area of VEF meets the refinement of Teika. Alongside the restaurant Mākonis, bistroBalts and cantine Daily you can find the innovative co-working and event space Teikums with new services to be added soon to make living and working at Jaunā Teika as comfortable as ever. Jaunā Teika is specifically designed to be a dynamic urban environment, bringing together excellent business spaces, apartment buildings and recreation areas. In summertime Jaunā Teika organizes very trendy and great concept Street Food Festival – where local celebrities host themed street food parties fort their friends and visitors of Riga city.

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The republic known as Miera Street

The new creative quarter of Riga, beloved by the bohemian public and visitors to the city, is located on Miera street from Tallinas street to Brīvības street. It is famous for its summer festival, in which concerts, master classes and competitions are held, as well as handicrafts, vintage and farmer markets. Here you can find cozy cafes – for example, Mierīgā, which offers vegan dishes and gluten-free pastries, and Taka, famous not only for its rich selection of craft beer, but also for interesting discussions and concerts. In turn, in the shop-bar M50 you can find clothes, decorations and accessories of Latvian brands (many products are created by recycling), as well as interesting interior and design items. The chocolate museum of the famous factory is also part of the republic. The building of the former tobacco factory is also quite nearby, where the New Riga Theatre now lives, the main director of which is Alvis Hermanis – one of the most famous personalities of theatrical Europe.

www.mieriela.lv

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Berga Bazārs

The shopping arcade in the centre of Riga was built at the end of the 19th century, commissioned by businessman and philanthropist Kristaps Bergs and designed by the famous architect Konstantīns Pēkšēns. At the end of the last century, the descendants of the Bergs family restored the quarter, retaining the layout of the ensemble of buildings; shops and cafes are located on the first floors, and apartments and offices are on the upper floors. The passage is decorated with the building of the five-star hotel Bergs, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World chain, and the fountain created by the artist Ilmārs Blumbergs, which is called Pumpītis, as the first fuel pump in Riga. The quarter pleases the gourmets with the Bourgeois restaurant, the Garage wine, and tapas bar, the Cyroponia gastropub, and the cozy pastry shops that are constantly arranging tastings of oysters. Fashion-lovers are waiting for the latest Latvian Anna Led, Narciss and Ameri knitwear brands, and moviegoers from the K.Suns are waiting for the latest film festival. In the summer, Berga Bazārs hosts open-air concerts and trade fairs for farmers and artisans.

www.bergabazars.lv

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The Opera House

In the 1990s, the Opera House underwent large-scale reconstruction and restoration of the interior, highlighting the original decorations and matching the new interior of premises to them. The construction was finished in 2001, when a new complex building for technical and creative staff and the New Hall with 300 seats for the realization of a wide range art projects were finished.

www.opera.lv

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