Lastādija (die Lastadie, die Last- cargo, load) is an old name for the neighborhood between Old Town, the railway and Lāčplēša street. Already in the 14th century merchants, boatmen, craftsmen and peasants were building their campsites around the start of the road to the East, now called Moscow district. Mills, churches, pubs and warehouses were being built here since then, some of them still remaining and having titles like ” the Oldest”, “One of the kind”, “Biggest number of..” and “the Highest”.
Recently, Lastādija is not only getting its old name back but also a second life. Union “Free Riga”, which opens abandoned houses for culture and art projects, NGO and residential purposes, has taken under its wing three of the buildings on Turgeņeva (Ivan Turgenev) street, together with Puškina (Alexander Pushkin) 11, creating an alternative creative quarter that’s shaking up the historical, social and residential waters.
My first visit to Turgeneva 15 was on a cold winter evening when I was invited to visit my friends. It was just occupied by new residents. We sat in the kitchen drinking mulled wine, burning wood in the stove to keep the room warm, having a little party in the living room in which one wall was fully covered with speakers & waking up the next morning in a hammock hanging from the ceiling.
It might not become a common experience for everybody, but lectures, concerts, picnics, spontaneous parties and the opening of the first free shop in Riga are making this unique neighborhood alive again.