Neighborhoods of Rīga: Zolitūde

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Zolitūde is a neighborhood of the Latvian capital Rīga, which is located several kilometers west of the left bank of the Daugava River, the so-called Pārdaugava. The neighborhood belongs to the suburb of Zemgale. In Zolitūde almost 20,000 people live in an area of less than 3 square kilometers. This district is mostly characterized by multi-storey apartment buildings from the 1980s shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Like all of these comparable neighborhoods in Rīga, Zolitūde was planned as a typical microrajon with schools, shops, bars and restaurants as well as administrative units. From a spatial and functional point of view, Zolitūde is generally a clearly identifiable neighborhood.


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The name Zolitūde comes from the French word solitude, which means loneliness, emphasizing the peace and quiet outside the densely populated Old Town of Rīga. The neighborhood got its name from Anna Ulrike von Vietinghoff, the wife of Otto Herman von Vietinghoff (* 1722 – † 1792), who, under Catherine II of Russia, was director general of the All-Russian medical college. He owned the manor houses Solitude and the immediate neighborhood Anniņmuiža (in German language Annenhof and now belonging to the neighborhood of Imanta) and Champêtre (now belonging to the neighborhood of Šampēteris). The estate in Zolitūde was particularly magnificent, according to contemporaries.

In 1877 the mansions were placed under the Rīga city administration. The swampy areas of the Zolitūde mansion were divided into lots and leased to the workers in the surrounding factories, small traders and small farmers. Until the beginning of the 20th century, the Zolitūde area must have been quite lonely and quiet, because from then the construction of single-family houses started. Later in the 1930s, two-story apartment buildings were built. From 1924, the city of Rīga had been given the right by the Latvian state to expand its territory.

The construction of panel buildings in Zolitūde began in 1985. Zolitūde is one of the younger parts of Rīga, where the living space has been compressed. It is characteristic that the residential buildings regularly face each other and are connected to each other, whereby groups of buildings are formed. The residential buildings vary in height from 6 to 16 floors (according to the Latvian counting with the first floor on the ground floor), which results in an interesting silhouette of this district.

Zolitūde unfortunately was the place of the greatest civil tragedy in the history of Latvia after the Second World War on November 21, 2013. On this day, at 5:41 p.m. local time – during the main shopping period – a supermarket of the MAXIMA Group collapsed due to a demonstrably inadequate statics of the supporting structure of the roof structure. As a result, 54 people, including three firefighters during the rescue measures, lost their lives and another 49 were injured. There wasn’t even snowfall that day. The cause of the collapse was the green roof. The supermarket was  opened in 2011.

Today Zolitūde has two railway Stations: Zolitūde and Imanta. To date, there is no tram connection. During the Soviet occupation of Latvia after the Second World War, the construction of a subway in Rīga was planned from the 1960s. Zolitūde should have been connected to it. For this, development plans have even been changed. The construction of the subway ultimately failed due to the enormous construction costs, which resulted from difficult geological conditions and resistance from the residents of the city of Rīga. What remained in Zolitūde are the prefabricated buildings that will forever shape the image of this district. However, this image does not do justice to the district, because – as everywhere in the outskirts of Rīga – there is also a lot of space and a lot of nature. After 2004 the construction of modern multi-storey apartment buildings started again.

All Images © 2014 – 2019 by Birk Karsten Ecke
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Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga. Provisional memorial for the 54 people killed in the collapse of the MAXIMA supermarket on the evening of November 21, 2013. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga.
Provisional memorial for the 54 people killed in the collapse of the MAXIMA supermarket on the evening of November 21, 2013.
Click on the image to enlarge it.

 

Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga. Multi-storey apartment buildings. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga.
Multi-storey apartment buildings.
Click on the image to enlarge it.

 

Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga. Multi-storey apartment buildings. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga.
Multi-storey apartment buildings.
Click on the image to enlarge it.

 

Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga. Multi-storey apartment buildings. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga.
Multi-storey apartment buildings.
Click on the image to enlarge it.

 

Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga. Multi-storey apartment buildings. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga.
Multi-storey apartment buildings.
Click on the image to enlarge it.

 

Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga. Multi-storey apartment buildings. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga.
Multi-storey apartment buildings.
Click on the image to enlarge it.

 

Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga. Multi-storey modern apartment buildings. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga.
Multi-storey modern apartment buildings.
Click on the image to enlarge it.

 

Interne Links:

Fototour: Rīga – Der westliche Stadtrand. Imanta und Zolitūde, ein Silberberg, Plattenbauten, ein eingestürzter Supermarkt, Wohntürme und Wald.
Fototour: Riga – In der Großstadt, auf dem Dorf und im Wald zugleich. Unterwegs im Stadtteil Zolitūde mit NIKON D700 und TAMRON SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD

 

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