Sunday in Riga

I finally got out yesterday afternoon (it’s Monday as I write this).

I’m here because I’ve been asked to deliver workshops on Tuesday at the MALT Conference being held at a University somewhere outside Riga. Also see https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2009/06/07/malt-project/ and the ensuing four posts. And – because my expenses are being covered by the project, I’m sitting through tedious meetings I only half understand. Nevertheless, I’m learning ‘stuff’ that might be useful in the future. But – I really wanted to see Riga while I was here – and in daylight.

So when we’d finished on Sunday, Brigita and Liesma (both Latvian) took Lorella (Italian) and me for a trip. We drove to what Brigita called the Jugenstil, and then we walked into the old town.

Riga is considered the world capital and metropolis of Art Nouveau (German: Jugenstil). The Riga ‘Jugendstil’ [DS – spelling corrected by German national!] is unique and distinct from its German cousin. No other city in the world has preserved so many fine examples of buildings made in this style that dominated art and architecture at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. Art Nouveau with its decorative elegance, curving lines and freedom of choice is regarded by many as the cream of architectural styles. More than 700 buildings or nearly 40% of all buildings in the very centre of today’s Riga are built in the Riga Art Nouveau style.’
[ http://acre.socsci.uva.nl/case-studies/riga.html ] also see …
http://latviasfriend.blogspot.com/2007/07/art-nouveau-jugenstil-in-riga.htm

A lot of refurbishment seems to have taken place over recent years and it really makes a visit to this area worthwhile. It’s beautiful. I think I’d like to come again in late Spring as it’s a bit cold right now. However, Riga looks wonderful as the leaves are still hanging colourfully from their branches and add a nice touch of autumn colour to the buildings and the town. The buildings are fabulous – something I’ve not been able to do justice to (via Flickr) because of the fading light, lack of elevation and (although excellent in every other way), the camera. Take a look at the dragons, the faces, the bodies, the shapes and the colours. Wonderful!

Riga is astride the banks of the Daugava [ http://www.riga-life.com/riga/river ] and a small waterway (the Pilsetas kanal) separates the old town from the wider Riga area. A park surrounds this waterway and it is crossed by many bridges: Luckily, this suits Latvian couples who wish to get married, as tradition demands that they ‘cross seven bridges’ together before arriving at the church. On the (presumably final – or first?) bridge, they signify their union by padlocking themselves together on the bridge! Someone must let them out because now, only the padlocks remain.

I’ll finish there for now and write a second ‘about Riga’ post later because this is getting a bit long now.

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