While often people probably look towards London or Birmingham as destination for steampunk enthusiasts and sightseers, we can guarantee that Riga, capital of Latvia, has also much of the legacy of 19th and early 20th century, when steam was the king, industry to present.
Lets start by explaining for the uninitiated ones, what does steampunk means – generally we can say that its a subculture, a hobby, an obsession, or just a form of fashion for people who are much into 19th and early 20th century technology, way of life and fashion – but with a catch!
Imagine that development of technology stopped around 1894/1909ish – so what you get is a steam powered ipod, steam powered engines and steam powered floating battleships, using massive Tesla coil weapons as a form of wrecking terror and mass destruction on the battle fronts of colonial expansion of the steam empires.
In a steampunk world people dress in pure Victorian fashion – top hats for gents and fancy dresses for ladies – everybody from upper class owns a steam powered engine, steam hipsters ride the streets with steam powered fixie bikes, wearing brass googles and steel armour for protection and carrying a brass Colt Navy revolver – just in case.
So what is there to see in Riga that is steampunk related? After the Crimean War it was finally agreed to tear down the old fortress walls of Riga and give more room for development – new factories, railways, power plants and buildings rapidly grew in the newly acquired space – so from 1860ies up to the First World War Riga was at its best – the period which some call the Golden Age of Riga – which was also the time when steam technologies expanded an were an important part of industry, military and daily life.
The Architecture in Riga
Quite a lot of public and industrial building were completed in Eclectic Gothic style as it was common in late 19th and early 20th century.
Art Nouveau architecture is really all around Riga – walk the streets of the Central District or join our Art Nouveau Tour to see the buildings to get inspired or try our Bike Tour to cover a wider area – including old merchant districts, markets, old factories and cemeteries.
Industrial Sights and Museums
Riga Water Supply Museum and Andrejsala Museum of Energetics give an opportunity to see steam, diesel and later period technology from the history of Riga.Also don’t forget to visit Riga Railway Museum to see an impressive collection of steam and other railway engines and carts. Riga Photography Museum has a collection of pictures from past and present of Riga and Latvia, old cameras and photography related tools, and also exhibiting works of contemporary artists. Riga Motor Museum has just few steam engines, but the collection of cars is impressive. If you like weapons and all things military, be sure to visit Latvian War Museum – entrance is for free and there you can see selection of weapons from Middle Ages up to Nowadays.
Riga Central MarketThe Central Market pavilions are coming from early 20th century – originally located out from the city, they were used to store Zeppelin airships that were used by the German army during the First World War.
Nowadays the pavilions are home for the Central Market of Riga – join one of our Food Tasting Tours to discover what Latvian food is about.
Other Steampunk things in Riga
Try the Riga Retro Tram ride or join our Retro Vintage Tour to visit old flea markets, vintage stores and other retro sights – have a chance to by yourself you own soviet industrial googles, set of brass tools or an original Art Nouveau bric-a-brac gadget for your ultimate steampunk suit.