One of the areas where you can explore this phenomenon is Spīķeri - a place that's already established itself as a magnet. It's only a few minutes' walk from the railway station, the bus terminal, or the Central Market. In the 14th century ships were loaded and unloaded here, the buildings known as Hanf-Ambaren in German - hemp warehouses. Later they were adapted for use by the Central Market. Eventually fifty-eight brick structures were erected - only thirteen remain. The red brick buildings are perfect examples of a formal style of 19th-century eclecticism in industrial architecture.
Some of the warehouses have now been renovated, and one houses the cutting-edge galley kim? - the name is an acronym for "kas ir māksla?"; "What is art?" The gallery regularly hosts exhibits by local and international artists, lectures, films, and performances. The atmosphere is that of an anthill swarming with fresh ideas, the exhibits and events wildly different each month. Right next door is the restaurant Kitchen, practically a continuation of the show. Whilst kim? stimulates your aesthetic sensibilities, Kitchen does the same for your taste buds. Sergai Yaramishyan, the chef, used to cook at RawGarden, the pioneer of fresh dining in Riga. Kitchen's distinctly modern menu is a bouquet of tastes from around the world, but it nonetheless serves strictly seasonal food that's perfectly fresh and, whenever possible, local. It should be noted that many of the ingredients come from the nearby Night Market, as well as the Central Market. It's a lively, popular place and everything is prepared right before your eyes. The interior as an elegant simplicity peppered with rather humorous details - the wine list, for example, is presented as a label on a bottle.
One of the most colourful inhabitants of the Spīķeri quarter is doubtless Dirty Deal. Whether it's avant-garde jazz or experimental dance music, you'll find it performed here. Dirty Deal Audio, meanwhile, produces ism, glitch, down-up tempo, ambient, experimental hip-hop, triphop and other electronic music albums. Dirty Deal Teatro, on the other hand, is devoted to experimental theatre.
The heart of Spīķeri, however, is its concert hall. Latvijas koncerti shares the space with Sinfonietta Riga and the Latvian Radio Choir, one of the world's finest chamber choirs. The musicians work here without surcease, rehearsing throughout the building, from the basement to the roof. When passing, you'll feel engulfed and overwhelmed by the music. The concert hall itself is a contemporary space that doesn't conceal the age of the structure. It has a fabulous aura and plays host to music of all kinds, in all styles, as well as film screenings, and events for children. There are jazz nights and fascinating instrumental experiments, too.
On your way to Spīķeri, you should definitely stop at a small bistro bearing the exceedingly unexceptional name Desa un Co - Sausage & Co. It's opposite the Central Market's fish pavilion. The functional, minimalist environment is somehow appropriate to the simple but abundant fare, whether that's hot soup on a cool day or a weekend brunch featuring grilled sausages and freshly baked croissants.
It's likely that you'll leave Desa un Co with a big bag - this is the only place in Riga where you can find a selection of superb venison and boar in various incarnations, all from Zemitāni. It's a farm run by Guntis Belēvičs, a well-known entrepreneur and Latvia's premier art collector, who does everything he does with true passion. Word has it that in addition to amassing an incredible collection of art, Belēvičs is determined to raise the world's tastiest deer.
Keywords: Spīķeri, cultural epicentre, Riga’s creative quarters