To see a different Riga, go to the Kalnciems quarter. It began as a project by Mārtiņš and Kārlis Dambergs, brothers who worked to restore a group of historic wooden structures. By now it has turned into a kind of creative country all its own, with its specific pace and rhythms of life. Wooden architecture in Riga is under UNESCO protection and unique in urban Europe, and each of the Kalnciems structures is unique within that uniqueness. Every building has a story to tell. Restoration meant long hunts in archives to determine the spirit of each structure, and the brothers were able to preserve the aura of the buildings even as they installed the latest technologies like heated floors. The area is home to design studios and shops, and on Saturdays there are themed markets. In the summer there's an open-air stage for local musicians, and outdoor film screenings.
The Kalnciems quarter is quite lively. In the courtyard and surrounding area are spaces the Dambergs dub "the komunalka" courtyard" (komunalkas were the notorious Soviet era shared apartments) and "the ladies' garden" - the trees and shrubbery planted by women living here long ago are still growing there. There's the sense of a typical garden in Pārdaugava, that part of Riga that lies on the left bank of the river Daugava and has an inimitable atmosphere of its own. Trees and flowers blossom in haphazard places. The Soviet era Ladas that defiantly bask in the courtyard are another of the Dambergs brothers' passions - why tool around Riga in a late model car if you have wheels that are already historic?
One of the most intriguing stops for those who prefer two wheels is Run Rabbit Bicycle. You'll find used and renewed bikes in the vlue house in the Kalnciems quarter... and if you're seeking to rent a bike or buy cycling accessories, Gandrs is the best spot in town.
Keywords: The untamed charm of Kalnciems, Riga’s creative quarters