Riga’s visitors are happy to stroll through its medieval old town and admire its stunning art nouveau city centre, but seldom do they cross over to the River Daugava’s left bank, unless of course they’re on their way to the airport. An odd combination of wide-open green spaces, Soviet housing estates, charming 19th-century neighbourhoods and aging factories, Pārdaugava, as it’s known in Latvian, or Over Daugava to translate literally, is often a hard place to get your bearings. However, those intrepid travellers who are brave enough to walk across a bridge or take a short tram ride will discover a town within a city that has its own spirit, history and traditions. (For complete reviews, opening times and more info see the list of venues at the bottom of the feature).
The best way to get to Pārdaugava is either to walk across the Vanšu or Akmens bridges or to take trams, especially during rush hour. For the Railway Museum, Soviet Victory Monument, Arcadia Park, the Monument to the Repressed and the Riga Luther Church take tram N°10. For the Āgenskalns Market and many of the restaurants and bars concentrated in that neighbourhood take tram N°2. For Kalnciema kvartāls take tram N°4 or 5.
Āgenskalns Market (Āgenskalna tirgus)
Although construction of Riga’s third largest market began in 1911, due to WWI it wasn’t completed until 1923. Since then this red brick building has become the focal point of the local community. It’s home to numerous stalls selling anything from pork and poultry to dairy products and fresh vegetables. Unfortunately, the years have not been kind to this historic landmark and a general feeling of depression seems to reside in its halls. Take the stairs to the second floor for great views of the bustle below and cheap food and drink at the café. Nometņu 64.
Āgenskalns Water Tower (Āgenskalna ūdenstornis)
This stunning water tower dating from 1910 was the brainchild of prolific architect Wilhelm Bockslaff. Riga was experiencing a golden age of construction and development at the time, so it was created, not surprisingly, to provide fresh drinking water to an exploding population. The impressive structure rises to a height of 40m and has 2m-thick brick walls, as well as a stylised version of Riga’s coat of arms above the entrance. It was also used as an underground recording studio called ‘Tornis’ from 1991 - 2010. Alīses 4.
Arcadia Park (Arkādijas Parks)
Created at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, this pleasant park is divided by the meandering Mārupīte river which was diverted for the project. A restaurant building and an amphitheatre were part of the original park but were burned down over the years by vandals and never restored. Today, you can follow the course of the river and feed ducks from its banks or take in the view from the top of the hill. Take tram N°10 from Grēcinieku to the Arkādijas parks stop. Between O. Vācieša and F. Brīvzemnieka.