The Left Bank of the Daugava
February 22, 2016 4:08pm CST
The Daugava River divides Latvia’s capital Riga into two parts. We leave the city behind on the right bank and head to the suburbs which are on the left bank. The suburbs in Latvian are called Pardaugava (loosely translated “Over the Daugava”). This area includes many different and varied neighborhoods. In the early years it was difficult for people to get to Pardaugava but now of course in modern times we are but a skip and a jump from the city center itself. It has many more open spaces and offers people a more laid-back and quieter life than living in the city center itself. For this reason we are happy to be living in the suburban part of Riga. The region was just beginning to be explored in 1711. The problems that Pardaugava faced were spring floods because on the left bank the Daugava was rather shallow and there were many low lying areas. As the ice would begin to break in the springtime so slowly but surely water would start creeping up the river bank. Today this has been controlled and there have been no major floods. In the-17th century the two islands which are now in the Daugava did not exist. One is Zakusala (translated “Rabbit Island” and now there stands a transmitter and a high-rise television tower) and the other is Kliversala (people now live here). By the second half of the 18th century people had gotten control of the Daugava and now the suburbs could start to be inhabited. A new road was built in 1764 from the Plostu Tilts (Raft Bridge) to the capital of the duchy of Courland or Kurzeme the city of Jelgava. It was also part of the road that connected St. Petersburg with Europe. Kliversala had emerged from the Daugava and was being inhabited by fishermen. Hostels were set up for those who didn’t wish to live in the city, warehouses, lodgings for servants of the gentry, carts and carriages were built. There were plenty of taverns for the weary traveler. Finally in 1786 Pardaugava officially became a suburb of Riga. All warehouses were moved here and barges were moored in Agenskalns Bay and in the Daugava Sound. The Trinity Orthodox Church was built for the barge crews that spent their summers on Kliversala and was closed in the winters when the crews left. This island was the most populated at the beginning of the 19th century. A total of 25 stores were located and operating here. In order to get out of the city in the summer the rich built summer homes in Pardaugava and those who were less wealthy built their homes in the dunes between Agenskalns and Tornakalns (that’s Agensmountain and Towermountain) thereby creating new streets. Since the only way to get to Pardaugava was by the Plostu Tilts then it was hard for the inhabitants of the city to get to the suburbs as the bridge was seasonal and guards would close it at sundown. Of course, this bridge is long since history but it is interesting that it was made up of rafts. Can you imagine having to rely upon a bridge that closed at sundown? Found an old picture on the net of this bridge To be continued...