As Latvia celebrates its 100th year of independence, we take a look at eight unique architectural venues that have been taken over for the first Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art.
Former Faculty of Biology, University of Latvia
Located in between Old Riga and the Art Nouveau district in the picturesque Kronvalda Park, is the grand former Faculty of Biology of the University of Latvia. Built in 1898, architect Johanness Kohs chose a Neo-Renaissance style for what would become one of the Soviet Union’s scientific powerhouses. Although the laboratories, wood-panelled libraries and auditoriums lay empty, it still houses two working museums – of zoology, and the history of chemistry and botany. The former institution has ideally been commandeered as the main venue of the biennial with works throughout the expansive complex.
Address: Kronvalda bulvāris 4, Rīga
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Built in 1977, this rather extraordinary modernist station at Jūrmala was based on the designs of Soviet architect Igor Jawein. Art Station Dubulti is the only art space in Europe that continues to operate as a railway station. Just 15 km outside of Riga, this is actually the last venue of the biennial, featuring work by Viron Erol Vert and Sissel Tolaas in The Sensorium curated by Solvej Helweg Ovesen.
Apartment of Kristaps Morbergs
The architect and entrepreneur Kristaps Morbergs donated a number of his properties to the University of Latvia, including his apartment on the Riga Boulevard circle. Overlooking Freedom Square, the residence still retains a number of its Art Nouveau features including a striking stained-glass window, ornate tiled furnaces, parquet flooring and embellished ceiling ornaments. It also has Riga’s first ‘shower cabin’ with its polychrome-glazed tiles.
Address: Zigfrīda Annas Meierovica bulvāris 12, Rīga
Located in a new district of contemporary Riga, Sporta2 square has rejuvenated the former Laima chocolate and sweets factory into a creative hub that houses start-ups, co-working spaces, studios and kim? Contemporary Art Centre. Transforming the area into an emerging art, business and technology district, three of the former factory spaces make for ideal venues for showcasing art, which includes Marco Montiel-Soto’s impressive video installation, Permanent storm for a tropical constellation (2017).
Latvian Art collectors and patrons, the Zuzāns family have founded the Art Centre Zuzeum in a former cork factory to house part of their 5,000-strong collection. Located in a UNESCO protected area, the building was designed by the Baltic-German architect Edmund von Trompovskis in 1910. Its yellow bricks and spiring chimney are typical of 20th-century industrial architecture, when Riga was the third largest industrial city in the Russian Empire. The celebrated Latvian architect Zaiga Gaile has been brought on to lead the renovation of the 6,896 metre square site into an art space.
Former Bolshevichka textile factory
As with many cities around the world, former industrial buildings make for ideal artist studios. Such is the case with this former textile factory as Latvian artist Andris Eglītis has renovated one of the outhouses into an impressive studios, which actually is being used as one of the biennial venues. The factory opened in 1913 and produced footwear. During the First World War it became the site for a military hospital. In 1941, its purpose changed yet again and it became a weaving workshop and spinning mill, taking the name of Bolshevichka. However, since 1990, the building has lain empty.
Address: Ganibu dambis 30, Rīga
Another area of Riga undergoing redevelopment is Andrejsala. Once a member of the Hanseatic League, Riga was an important trading port which played a crucial role during the Russian Empire. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the once prospering port which is on the banks of the Daugava River is today just a reminder of a former glory with its abandoned warehouses. As Andrejsala is transformed into a destination for culture, its post-industrial backdrop is the perfect location of works in the biennial that explore obsolescence.
Address: Andrejostas iela 29, Rīga
Want to see more culture in Riga? Read about the first Riga Biennial
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.