Riga Splendid Palace

Riga’s arthouse cinema has changed its name to The Splendid Palace.

The cinema formerly known as Kino Riga, has undergone a name change and will now be referred to only as Splendid Palace. There’s a very sensible reason for such silliness however, this was the original name of the movie theatre when it was opened in 1923.

Whilst there are many cinemas in Riga, the Splendid Palace is indeed the most splendid, it is fully deserving of its name. Walking through the main doors, past the sculptures on the facade and into the main hall, it feels more like entering into an opera house or theatre than a cinema. It may have been such splendour that led the Soviets to change its name to the more proletarian Kino Riga, or Cinema Riga.

Not content with that, they then decided to hide the cinema behind an rather ugly glass box on stilts that now houses a gambling establishment. While I’m not so fussed about the name change, I would be over the moon if they tore down that eyesore.

I am however, quite distraught about one thing. One thing the cinema was famous for was its hand-painted film posters. For each new film being shown, a 3×2 metre poster was created, something quite unique. Unfortunately the posters will no longer be on display, replaced instead with a rather unexciting lettering of the new name.

Still, the Splendid Palace remains the most interesting cinema in Riga, and has a great selection of art-house, foreign and local films, most shown in their original language. There is also a great wine bar next door, where you can discuss the merits of the film you have just seen.

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