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A photo walk in coronavirus Riga

Let's take a virtual photo walk in empty streets and squares of Riga. 

COVID-19 pandemic in Latvia hasn't been as harsh as in many other countries in Europe and world so far. Thus also there isn't an overall quarantine introduced in Latvia - people can quite freely walk around. There are some limitations though - only people from one household can go out together (if they are more than 2); at least a 2 m distance should be maintained between, etc. 

There is a state of emergency introduced in Latvia since the middle of March; currently it is prolonged to 12th May. In practice it means that many people works from home now; schools are closed and also pupils learns from home (9th grade exams won't be organized this year). A part of non-essential product shops are closed in supermarkets on weekends (by government rule). 

All sports, entertainment and culture industries are halted - sports halls, concert halls, theatres, cinemas, etc are all closed. Restaurants and cafes aren't officially (by rule) closed, but, as there is a complete lack of customers now (due to non-existent tourists and people who stays at home), most of them have closed themselves.    

In the result of all this, you see Riga as never (?) before. The Old Town is almost totally empty and silent, as tourists who made an important part of masses there are gone. In other parts of centre you can spot a people here and there but, of course, much less than before. Only cars on the streets seem to be driving around quite actively still - although you can spot a difference also with a "naked eye"; of course, when you drive yourself, it's much more obvious - one can enjoy much faster movement, the traffic jams are gone.

Actually this is the city I as a photographer have always dreamed of. Sometimes I enjoy some lively scenes and crowding too, but for the architecture and cityscapes photography this is the perfect time. Some people feels frightened in this empty city but for me it's a peace and calm. 

Here you see Riga Cathedral and it's square - usually quite a busy place with many people criss-crossing it. Now just alone walkers - one in a few minutes. 


Also St Peter's church - second main church of Riga - stays proud and lonely. Haven't seen this street without souvenir stands and tourists before.


Another landmark of Riga - House of Blackheads, usually one of the most photographed and crowdy places  
Empty streets and squares next to Riga castle:

Klostera street - Latvian parliament building to the left and St Jacob's church to the right:

It's possible to get a people-free photos of charming Trokšņu street now:

The same street from opposite side:

Usually it would take a lot of patience to get a "clean" shot of Swedish gates, one of interesting older architecture examples in Old Town. Now it would require a lot of patience to wait for some by-passer appearing in the scene:

Skārņu street

Streets next to Līvu square, which usually weren't so deserted even at night time:

Kaļķu street. As you see, there is a green signs with title "OPEN" next to some bars/restaurants. They specially indicate to rare by-passers that they are still working:

However not all of them are really working. For example, this cosy bakery shop should have been open according to the working hours sign on their doors, but it wasn't:

So-called "banks crossing", the place where Old Town gradually becomes New Town (19th/20th Century historical quarters). Also very busy place in normal conditions, to the right in distance you see widest zebra crossing in Latvia (and Baltic's, it seems), leading to Freedom monument. Usually there are many walkers going around in many directions. Now only a lonely street singer stood and sung at the corner.

Vaļņu street, filled with the elegance of some 1930ies Functionalism/Art Deco and also buildings from other time periods:

Italian embassy on the magnificent Art Nouveau building at Teātra street 9:


Another Old Town's Art Nouveau building at Kalēju street 23, now renovated and beautifully lightened up at night:

Jauniela with one more Art Nouveau pearl.


Rozena street (to the right), the narrowest in Old Town. Restaurant "Rozengrāls" is taking care of a medieval atmosphere here:

Different sight - Riga's modern downtown of Ķīpsala island/Zunda canal area. The Swedbank tower depicts a house of illuminated windows - supposedly it's symbolizing the popular appeal "Stay at home!". Banks also have significantly reduced their "face to face" services in customer service centers, redirecting people to internetbank options where possible. In overall, it seems this time could turn into a starting shot to a new, digital age - it has shown how much is possible to done from home, through internet. Why it's needed to commutate at least 2 hours a day (in larger cities even more) from home to work and back, losing so valuable sleep time or time with family? Why it's needed to spend time and money for basically useless moving around (and adding pollution), office space hire, costly dinners in cafes, etc (of course, here I'm not talking about those who can't complete their job tasks from home)?
  Waterfront from where the views to other side of Daugava river can be enjoyed. This place is frozen in time - it seems it looked about the same some 50 years ago. 

And here Alberta street - another tourism magnet of Riga, famous for it's decorative Art Nouveau architecture by Mikhail Eisenstein:


A photo walk in coronavirus Riga Reviewed by Ikars Kublins on Saturday, May 02, 2020 Rating: 5

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