Splendid Palace Cinema
The Splendid Palace, as Kino Riga is now known, is the oldest, and still the nicest of Riga’s Cinemas. When looking for Cinemas in Riga, look no further than this masterpiece. It is definitely one of the most interesting cinemas in Riga, not only because of the wide film choice or the numerous festivals happening there, but also because of building itself. If you have decided to see a film in Riga, the Splendid Palace is the best place for it.
It is the first building in Riga which was planned and built especially for to be a cinema (architect Frīdrihs Kārlis Skujiņš). While most cinemas tend to be housed in big, glass and steel buildings, Kino Riga is constructed in the Neo-Baroque style with a Neo-Rococo interior. The most impressive part of the cinema is the main or large hall. Before entering, you will pass through a round lobby decorated with wall and ceiling murals and fitted out with comfortable chairs and sofas from beginning of last century.
Upon entering into hall you will be struck by how much the room resembles an opera rather than a cinema, with balconies, beautiful ceiling paintings, and sculptures surrounding the screen. Even if the film you have chosen to watch has disappointed you, the cinema itself will make your visit worth it.
Cinema Splendid Palace was opened on the 30th of December, 1923, with a screening of the silent film „Under Two Flags”(USA, 1922, Todd Browning). While the rest of the world was still enjoying their films in silence, the cinema had it’s own orchestra. In 1929, Splendid Palace was the first place in the Baltics to show a film with sound. In 1952 Splendid Palace was renamed Kino Riga (Cinema Riga) as the Soviets deemed such grandeur offensive. In 1969 the cinema “Spartaks” was built adjacent to Cinema Riga; this is now the small hall. During Soviet times, Cinema Riga began to hand-paint all movie posters. This tradition lasted right up until 2010, and gave the cinema a unique flavour, miles away from the commercial Hollywood mass-marketing popcorn munching experience you found in most other venues. In 2011 Cinema Riga reverted to its old name, becoming Splendid Palace once again, although most locals still call it Kino Riga.
One of the aims of Cinema Riga is popularising Latvian cinema and showing new and arthouse films. As well as showing quality cinema from all over Europe, in the original language, Splendid Palace also shows live broadcasts from La Scala and other opera festivals and holds different concerts.