I have spent the past few days in Riga – coming to take part in RIXC Open Fields and present a paper on Waters of the Past – especially focusing on the recent exploration of the runes, DNA music and 360 camera work. I also talked about the collaboration with Josiah Jordan on this project and our plans to create a virtual reality space for audiences to inhabit a world constructed from DNA, memories, ancestors, meditations, thoughts and dreams.
Anyway, while I have been here, I made time to explore the city, which is beautiful. The Old City has many gorgeous old buildings, many of which have been well-preserved.
Riga also has a fascinating history and over the centuries has been occupied by the many different cultures. In the 1200s Riga was the trade Gateway between the Baltic tribes and Russia, demonstrating the geographical significance of this city.
In September 1991, Latvia achieved independence and over the next couple of years the Soviet military withdrew and place names were restored Latvian.
What I found very interesting is the resurgence of Latvian culture, beautifully expressed in the patterns and designs inspired by the belt of Lielvarde. The belt of Lielvarde is regarded as an outstanding example of a hand-woven Latvian adornment, and it is included in the Latvian Cultural Canon.
I bought a book about the symbolism of the belt of Lielvarde as I am interested in learning more about the meanings embedded in the designs. Some of my other posts that relate to my interest in symbolism include:
It is fascinating to see the resurgence of the old culture after many years of occupation and gives a sense of the rich cultural history of Latvia.
The other beautiful aspect of the city is the prevalence of Art Nouveau architecture, which makes up about one-third of all buildings in the centre of Riga. The city has the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture anywhere in the world. Built during a period of rapid economic growth, most of the Art Nouveau buildings date from between 1904 and 1914.
Interesting about the scale of the Art Nouveau – even earlier that Art Deco which I’m more familiar with. My mother in law comes from East Prussia (Ostpreussen), which of course no longer exists since the end of World War 2. I wonder how similar Riga would be to some of the old neighbouring East Prussian towns like Kaliningrad/Königsberg. With the resurgence of Latvian culture, is there a concern about Russian Government ambitions in the region?
Thanks for your comments. I am not sure about current concerns given I was only there for a few days. I did notice that they are very proud of their culture and reviving traditions that go back many hundreds of years.