Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Rigorous in Riga (I'm getting worse)

Off on a tourist bus first thing to see the city. It was in three parts, the old city, the newer Art Nouveau (AN), and the workers area across the river. It was hard to see much from the bus but we knew we had to go back to the Art Nouveau area as it was quite extensive. The are contains a number of embassies which are spruced up AN but often next door is a derelict building also AN.

Latvia was prosperous during the late 1890's and wanting to be up to date built lots of AN as was popular at the time. Riga was Russia's largest port in the 19C and it was the 5th largest city in the Russian Empire. Booming foreign trade led to considerable industrial development. This new prosperity led to a radical new approach to the city's urban structure and the fortifications were levelled and converted to a green belt. The new city developed beyond the green belt and boulevards. The bourgeoisie of Riga used their wealth to build imposing residences where an earlier ordinance forbidding the use of stone for building was rescinded. Latvian and Russian architects adopted the European movement enthusiastically and particular AN which came from Finland. And we thought it came from France. (Thanks to Google for the info) 
This old AN building below was next to the Belgian Embassy. (Geoff is now watching a utube video on all the AN of Riga, we didn't have to go at all it seems)
Belgian Embassy below
Detail below
Futuristic for that period.

800 AN buildings were built during this period in Riga. Amazing!

I should never have let Geoff google Riga's Art Nouveau as now we have to go back to the area as we hardly saw any of the 800 buildings. As usual we had to stop for sustenance after walking the cobblestones whilst looking up, my blimp like proportions have taken another blow.
The tubs of raspberries are 2 lats each which is about $4 Au. Behind the rasberries they sell blueberries by weight instead of fiddly little boxes as they do in Aust.

There are also a great many old wooden houses which I really found beautiful as well.

We have been most disappointed with the museums, I was very keen on the National History Museum and we walked there after getting off the bus only to find a taped sign on the door saying "closed", nothing more. I walked around the corner to find serious renovations being done to a large crack snaking its way vertically up the building. During the Soviet occupation 1944-1991 no money was spent on such frivolities as restoration of bourgeois buildings, money was spent building schools, so now there is a lot of decay, sometime propped up with a bit of wood. In the AN district there is a lot of restoration going on and lots of buildings are covered with scaffolding.

It was another gorgeous day so we walked back to the old town through the park. Originally the park was the fortifications of the city, you can still see the sand ramparts and the moat which is now a canal through the park.
I photographed from one rampart across the moat to the other rampart, there is also another one beyond. It was such a beautiful day with little wooden boats along the canal that we couldn't resist and took a trip along the canal and out into the River Daugava.
Here is the boat entering the river under a bridge, oh that's why the boat was so little!
The city from the river.
Next on the list was the Latvium museum of Applied Arts for me. Geoff was going to the Natural History Museum but it was closed, surprise, surprise. Even the Museum of Soviet Occupation was unoccupied, more renovation. He went back to the hotel while I went to the museum expecting great things but was slightly underwhelmed. Latvia Is known for its embroidery or so I believed but there wasn't much to see. There was some beautiful wall hangings but they were modern as was most everything in the museum. The pottery was not terribly exciting, although interesting, as there were plates made during the occupation.
Above.This is a design for a plate during this period. 
Highly decorative work
Work from the beginning of 20th C
There was some modern ceramics, this work was made after 2000, and I liked these pieces most of all I saw.
Geoff and I managed to find one another again despite the maze of tiny streets with unpronounceable names. We saw some girls singing but by the time the tour group had moved out of the way I could only get a shot of them in a break.
We have returned from dinner and further wanderings, each walk offers new streets and new buildings, we are enjoying Riga, it is different to Tallinn yet similar. It is a busier city and the old and new are closer than in Tallinn. We have seen a lot of police on the streets here where we saw none in Tallinn. Lots of graffiti and none in Tallinn. I'm really pleased to have come to the Baltic states, it has been so interesting as I knew very little before I came. It does remind me of St Petersburg but a much less grand version.
Below. Don't know what these flowers are but they look like poppies.
Fancy wearing this whopper around your neck. I've never seen so much amber, and so many necklaces are not designed well. Usually over designed and the amber is often carved which I feel is pointless.
Thanks for your email Rob, glad you're enjoying the photos. I hear you are also taking a look Margot, nice to know all this writing is not in vain, thank you for ploughing through it all.

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