Academy of Sciences, Riga
This classic example of Soviet architecture dominates the skyline of the Latgale district and can be seen from some distance. Like similar edifices in Warsaw and Moscow it has attracted some nicknames including “Stalin's birthday cake” and “the Kremlin”. It was built between 1953 and 1956 and at a height of 108 metres (354 feet) it was for a while the tallest building in Latvia and one of the highest reinforced concrete buildings in the world. It is decorated with hammers and sickles, but apparently was intended also to have a picture of Stalin on the facade!
When I visited this part of Riga in 2014 with Isa we hadn’t realised that it was possible to go inside the building and up to its 17th floor to see the views of the city – and even if we had realised I suspect we wouldn’t have done it as we only had limited time (with a VT outing planned for that afternoon). So when I returned the next year with Chris this was high on my list of priorities. And I can say that it is well worth prioritising.
It has to be said that we were very lucky with the weather. A dull drizzly morning had turned to warm sun by early afternoon when we arrived here so visibility was great. We paid our €4 per person fee and were directed to a lift in the corner of the building. There are no special provisions made for visitors – this is the same lift as used by those who work here. And there were no ticket checks, but when we stopped on other floors I could see that there were security measures such as staff passes required to open doors, so I guess the potential for tourists to go wandering off is limited.
The lift only takes you to the 15th floor so you need to be able to walk up the final two flights of steps. Arriving on the 17th a door leads to the outside viewing terrace which runs right round the building. There are extensive views over the city and beyond, but you are not so far up that you cannot make out the details, so many of Riga’s most famous landmarks can easily be identified – the market halls just a few blocks away and beyond them the old town with St Peter’s church and the cathedral (sadly covered in scaffolding when we visited); the gold domes of the Orthodox cathedral too, and on the other side of the river the distinctive triangular shape of the new National Library and the slim TV tower. We could also see the scale of new development going on, with one building due to be the tallest in Latvia nearing completion just across the river. Small posters on each of the four sides of the building give quite detailed information about the main sights, which was helpful, and I also appreciated the fact that there was no glass or other barrier between me and the view, although for those nervous about heights this may be less of a benefit! However the wall that separates you from the drop is wide and very solid so most people will be comfortable. We spent quite a while up here photographing the views, and in all that time only saw one other couple, so it was very easy too to move around and get the shots we wanted. Definitely recommended if you’re in this part of the city, and worth making the journey for in fact.
Next tip: some little details
For the real soviet feeling, go beyond the market to the area southeast of the centrral train station. It is called moscow district, a place mostly inhabited by the russian population. Here you will find a couple of buildings from the 1950s and 1960s. The most impressive is the Academy of Science, the huge building which is visible from almost anywhere in the old town. It was built in 1951 in typical Stalinist manner to demonstrate the soviet rule over Latvia. Its pompous decoration gave it a couple of nicknames, with the most popular being “Stalin’s birthday cake”
Someties, there are free exhibitions in the building. For 4 EUR (2015) you can enjoy the view from the rooftop terrace. I liked it even more than the view from St. Peter's or the Radisson Hotel – and it's not as crowded. However, there is an old joke telling that the view from the Academy of Sciene is the best in Riga – because it's the only spot where you don't have to look at that bloody thing. I, for my part, like this kind of Stalinistic architecture, even if I know about the meaning behind it.
Riga like many former Communist countries has removed lots of traces of its Soviet past. The Academy of Sciences Building survived. Locals nickname it Stalin's Wedding Cake. I rather liked it myself. There are still some hammer and sickle emblems on it. The building is 65 metres high. There is an observation deck on the 17th-floor. This is open in the summer months, but there is an entrance fee.
The Academy of Sciences, known by many as "Stalin's birthday cake," is a classic example of Soviet-era Social Realist architecture. While the building itself is nothing to write home about, the academy opens the 17th floor observation deck to visitors who would like to enjoy the view. It is certainly worth the 2 Lat admission fee on a clear day.
The 21 storey (108 meter) high Academy of Sciences is of typical Soviet Stalinist architecture built between 1953 and 1956. It was a gift from the workers and peasants of other Soviets Republic to the Latvian people (Wiki). It’s not a nice looking building the reason why the local nick name the building “Stalin birthday cake” Historically an important one and it’s the third tallest buildings in Riga. At a cost visitors can go to the the 17th-floor balcony to see the panoramic view.
Open 09:00-17:00 Apr-Sep.
If you've seen the Moscow State University or Warsaw's Palace of Culture and Science, you'll immediately recognise the Latvian Academy of Science as a classic piece of Stalinist architecture. Built by the Soviets in 1955 as a gift from the other republics, it stood in its day as the tallest building in Latvia. Today you can ride its lift to the top for some great views of the city, river and TV tower.
Inside the building is pure communism. It's like stepping back in time to a land that Riga forgot. Even the people who work there, I swear to a one they were all over 60 and Russian speakers, seem to be have been transplanted from the USSR and left behind. It was as if the tower had hired no new staff since the fall of the Soviet Union.
The Academy of Sciences was a building that caught my attention, as it looked something like the American Empire state building!
This tall building was built between 1953 and 1956, as a gift from the workers and peasants of the other Soviet republics to the Latvian people. It's decorated with several hammers and sickles as well as Latvian folk ornaments and motifs. At 108 metres tall, it was the first skyscraper in the republic, and was one of the tallest buildings at the time, and one of the highest reinforced concrete buildings in the world.
The architecture is known as "Stalinist architecture," looking like many others built in the Soviet Union at the time, most notably the main building of Moscow State University.
Nicknames for this building include Stalin's birthday cake and the Kremlin.
The Academy of Sciences is the official science academy of Latvia and is an association of the country's foremost scientists.
Viewing platform is on 17th floor.
Entrance fee: 2 LVL
Opening hours: 9:00 - 9pm daily
The Science Academy in Riga is of typical Soviet architecture of the Stalin era. It was built in 1957 and because of its appearance it has the nickname “Stalin’s birthday cake”. On the façade some small hammers and sickles can be seen.
On the 17th floor, at 65 metres, there is an open-air viewing platform that can be visited. There is an entrance fee.
The Science Academy in Riga has the nickname “Stalin’s birthday cake”. It was built in 1957 and has a Soviet architecture. The facade have some small hammers and sickles. A viewing platform can be visited on the 17th floor, at 65 metres.
The Academy of Science Building is south of the Old Town and dominates the skyline of Riga. It is almost magnificent in its monstrosity and well worth a look close up.
Known also as 'Stalin's Birthday Cake' this tiered skyscraper was built in the mid 1950's and is a perfect example of Socialist Realist architecture, built on the site of part of the old Russian quarter of wooden buildings. It's original purpose was to house the Collective of Farmers but it ended up housing the Science Academy and continues to do so. In a bizarre twist of post-Stalinist irony, the branch of the Swedish bank, SEB [Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken] is contained in the base of the tower.
You can enter the building and go up to at least the 17 floor if you pay about 1 lat, but make sure it's on a clear day so that you get your money's worth.
The Academy of Sciences edifice was built after World War II, between 1953 and 1956, as a gift from the workers and peasants of the other Soviet republics to the Latvian people and also to mark the borders of Stalin's empire, and is appropriately decorated with several hammers and sickles as well as Latvian folk ornaments . Most Latvians consider themselves lucky that the giant portrait of Stalin that was supposed to be a part of the facade never came to fruition. Being 108 metres (353 ft) tall, it was the first skyscraper in the republic and was the tallest building until the construction of the Hansabanka Central Office (121m or 396ft), and at the time, one of the highest reinforced concrete buildings in the world.
The building, designed by Lev Rudnev, is a cousin to similar Stalin-era skyscrapers, which were representative of what became known as Stalinist architecture (sometimes referred to as Stalin's Empire style or Socialist Classicism). The architecture of the skyscraper resembles many others built in the Soviet Union at the time, most notably the main building of Moscow State University. Local nicknames for this building include Stalin's birthday cake and the Kremlin.
One can enjoy a magnificent view of Riga from the 17th-floor balcony (height of 65m) which is open to the public.
This building alone is reason enough to visit the Moscow District of Riga. It was originally dedicated to Stalin and meant to symbolise the power of the Soviet State. It really is an imposing building and can be seen from all over the city.
This building is a copy of Stalins gift to Poland. In Poland you find a taller version (200+m high) of this building which Stalin built for the people of Poland after it was a part of the Soviet Republic.
For the same reason this building stands in Riga, only it's a bit smaller and slightly outside the citycenter.
The area south of the railway station is called Maskavas forštate (“Moscow suburb”) with the five halls of the Central Market in the foreground, at the left behind it the tower of the Academy of Sciences in the typical Stalinist architecture (but the name of the suburb is older!), at the other banks of the Daugava the TV tower.
Say what you want, some like it but most Latvians hate this building and find it ugly. I think it's ok. It is in soviet, stalin-era style and has brothers in many soviet cities (moscow, warsaw). As I said, most Latvians hate it, as it stands for the hated Soviet regime that ruled that country for so long.