Riga is a city that has endured many political and social changes in the last few years. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the USSR, this young country has developed and become a popular tourist destination whilst preserving its historical charm, and where its past is still present on its streets. Much has been said and written about its Old Town but there´s a part of the city that seems stuck in time, and this gives it a special charm, a decadence that mixes with romanticism that becomes paradise for those in search for authenticity outside the claws of tourism.
The Russian district of Riga, known as Maskavas Forštate in Latvian, which means Moscow Suburb, or as Maskačka as the locals known it, is a district that perhaps you´ve already read about and been told that it needs avoiding when you visit Riga. In any case, if you listened to those opinions, you would be missing out on an emblematic part of the Latvian capital. Maskačka is made up by old wooden houses, cobbled streets and a Soviet look that it hasn´t been able to lose with the passing of time. If you´ve learned some Latvian words for your trip to Riga, you won´t need them here since Russian is the language spoken on these streets.
In any case, the Moscow Suburb oozes history. After the medieval Old Town of the city, this is the oldest part of the city, with its existence going back as far as the 14th century. In this district you can find many old buildings, including churches of five different religions. During the Second World War, this district endured its hardest period, becoming a ghetto for the Latvian Jews, 30,000 in total, who were later murdered.
It would be a mistake to think that everything is negative here; all the opposite. The Central Market is a perfect place to buy fresh food at low prices and walk around seeing the locals´ day to day life. Also, this place is Europe´s second biggest market, full of small stalls where you can also buy regional products and little bars and restaurants where to try traditional Latvian and Russian cuisine. Also, there´s a flea market, Latgalïte, where you can buy quite literally everything you can think of, although if you feel like your Russian haggling skills are up to scratch you might get the things cheaper.
Lastly, the district has a decadent atmosphere about it that depending on what time of the year can become an incredibly romantic place due to the thousands of colours that appear, transporting the visitor back in time, an ideal prospect for the nostalgic ones who are in search of the most authentic parts of the cities. There´s no doubt that the medieval Old Town of Riga is the main tourist attraction of the city but Maskačka is the most authentic part, the district that has seen the passing of time in this city and where you can best see its lifestyle and customs.
For more information: http://maskfor.lv/
If you´re looking for a different travelling experience, spend your holidays in Riga apartments and discover the most authentic part of this city, the Russian district, a place where time seems to have been standing still but preserving its historical charm and atmosphere.