Last Updated on 2020-04-20 by Birk Karsten Ecke
Sarkandaugava is a neighborhood of Rīga in the Northern District. Nearly 18.000 people live here at at a total area of of about 7,596 square kilometres which is approximately 2.300 people per square kilometer. Within its current boundaries, Sarkandaugava is difficult to identify as a spatially cohesive and functionally connected territory of the city of Riga, as the neighborhood is very complex and its parts are primarily oriented to the Freeport of Riga or other industrial activities not directly related to the neighborhood. Sarkandaugava’s name derives from Red Daugava which in German language means Rote Düna. The intersection of Sarkandaugavas iela and Tilta iela is considered to be the center of Sarkandaugava.
Maybe Sarkandaugava’s name comes from a battle between Rīga and the Livonian Order in the year 1484, where several of the Livonian knights had been wounded or killed and their blood painted the ice on the Daugava river with a red color. Nobody knows but it’s still a good story until our days. A one hundred years later the Red Daugava was well known in Livonia because convicted “witches” had been submerged into the river. That time people thought that witches are much more lightweight than normal people. We don’t know how many of them survived this trial, but the term dark middle ages is not an exaggeration.
During the Great Northern War and the conquest of Riga, the Russian Tsar Peter the Great ordered the construction of new fortifications here. A park was also created on the sandy ground, for which better soil had to be brought in from a farm in the area of today’s Duntes iela. Ponds were created for the park and trees were planted. The work was mostly carried out by soldiers. Part of the work fell victim to a severe flood in 1729. The inhabitants of the city of Riga have kept cattle in the city center since the beginning of the city and drove them north of the fortress walls to the pastures of the city. An important traffic route emerged from this road – today’s Ganību dambis.
Another important street today is the Tvaika iela. It was built at the beginning of the 19th century in parallel to the today largely dried out side arm of the Red Daugava. This road connected Sarkandaugava with the sawmills in Jaunmilgravis. Tvaika means something like steam. Today this street is divided into the Duntes iela in the south and the Tvaika iela in the north.
In 1828 Sarkandaugava was administratively incorporated into the city of Rīga. During this time, the district was mostly inhabited by ferry people, fishermen and boatmen. Only a couple of years later Sarkandaugava was one of Rīga’s first industrial districts where large companies settled along the banks of the Red Daugava. The most important industrial company in the period before the First World War was PROVODNIK, which had the longest workshop in the world at the beginning of the 20th century. This workshop can still be seen on the Tvaika iela. You can still find PROVODNIK advertising on some of the house walls in Sarkandaugava.
PROVODNIK was a factory that manufactured rubber articles. But there were also wood processing factories, chemical factories, shoe manufacturers and a sugar factory, which was the first in Livonia. In 1865 a brewery called Valdšleshena had been founded at the Tvaika iela. Today it is well known as ALDARIS brewery, a division of the danish CARLSBERG GROUP. ALDARIS is the only company in Sarkandaugava that still established all time at its original place and that has never changed its production profile.
The park on the dune above the ALDARIS brewery was created by its former owner. In the park you can find the manor of the former brewery owner, a castle built as a ruin and an old stock of trees. Before the Second World War, the mansion was the summer residence of the President of Latvia Kārlis Ulmanis. Since 1990 it has become the Latvian Cultural Museum Dauderi.
The Holy Trinity Lutheran Church – Svētās Trīsvienības luterāņu baznīca – had been built in 1878 by the architect Johann Daniel Felsko. This neo-Gothic style church rises in Sarkandaugava Park on a dune, which dominates the surrounding panorama. The building and tower are built of bricks. The small but impressive and well maintenanced park next to the church was built in 1964. On the eastern side of the church is a more or less closed but romantic cemetery with old grave yards. Eastern side of the railway crossing at the Meža prospekts you can find the Roman Catholic Church of Christ the King which was built in the middle of the 1930s and the small but also impressive Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration of Christ from the 19th century.
Also at Meža prospekts and east side of the railway you can find a monument to the victims of the Mežaparks concentration camp. The camp was located at this place from March 1943 to the autumn of 1944. Even if it is not recognizable at first glance, there are many old residential buildings in Sarkandaugava. A couple of them still have litter boxes. The quality of living here might be not as high as in the newer developed areas of Rīga like Imanta or Zolitūde. But Sarkandaugava is not as anonymous and soulless as it.
All Images © 2014 – 2018 by Birk Karsten Ecke
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