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The Reputation of Moscow District in Riga

30 July, 2015

The Reputation of Moscow District in Riga

Latgale, also known as Maskavas forštate (Moscow district), is with no doubt an interesting area in Riga, with a special atmosphere, character, and full of memories, but probably for this reason at the same time not the safest place of the city. The history of this poor and unruly suburban district, that after the Old Town it’s the oldest district of Riga, dates back to the 14th century.

In Latgale the language spoken is not Latvian but Russian since mostly Russians, Jews and Old believers live there. In this district early 20th-century art nouveau palaces stand next to traditional 19th-century wooden homes: collapsing buildings, old churches and Soviet housing estates come one after the other along the cobblestone streets. In this shabby district it’s easy to meet drunk people and stray dogs on the streets or witness illegal dealings.

On the other side, this area hosts a trendy warehouse district close to Spīķēri, the central market, where one can spend time in the many cafes, shops and galleries or walk along the bank of the Daugava river. Latgale is not so far from the Old Riga and when you’ll be there you can easily pay a visit to the former Jewish ghetto nearby.

Unfortunately the Great Choral Synagogue doesn’t exist anymore: just ruins, a metal menorah and a memorial stone have been left, remains that witnessed too much crimes during World War II. Nothing much is left also from the Old Jewish Cemetery since when the war ended the Soviet took away many of the headstones and bricks. As for the orthodox side of the district there are two beautiful example of Russian churches: the Grebenshchikov Church and the Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. In addition the largest wooden church in Latvia, Riga Church of Jesus is also located in the same district.

Eventually if you are in Latgale, you can’t miss Latgalīte. This flea market won’t probably look appealing at a first sight, but then you’ll see that a whole world will be disclosed to your eyes; in fact according to locals, in this market “you can find even the Devil if you were looking for it”!

This post was brought to you by Jessica, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz

Photo by Peterisvalkis/ CC BY

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