Recognisable, magnificent, with an excellent location and a competitive cultural and entertainment offer – Riga is a true Northern star in every sense and constantly strives for star-worthy brilliance. The right bank has historically been rich in classical values, while the left bank is a touch rebellious and loved by artists. But we have to admit, that, no matter which bank you live on, it often turns out that the recreational opportunities of the city are already exhausted. Especially if you are looking for a place to experience exciting emotions with family or friends. Many years ago, such a place was the amusement park in Mežaparks. But, as time goes by, everything changes – sometimes irreversibly.
Observe Riga from a bird’s eye view
Who wouldn’t want to observe, how the Riga’s masterpieces of architecture coexist with the city’s industrial features! Realise, that the entry of the mighty Daugava to the sea is very close, and there are many more islands and peninsulas in Riga than you ever thought. To wave at the gilded roosters of Riga church towers. And to see it all instantly – like a seagull flying over the Daugava. The idea that Riga, as a real Baltic metropolis, needs an observation wheel has been discussed in society for years, The Riga observation wheel would mark a new meeting place on the map of Riga. A place to experience the vastness of the city and simply enjoy a moment with Riga, a special event, a first date or a proposal, take an unforgettable sunset picture, which you can send to friends here in Latvia or abroad.
Historical roots, modern design
Historically, observation wheels have been associated with carnivals, travelling fairs or amusement parks, and they have been associated with such fame from their beginnings almost to the present day. The tradition of observation wheels in European cities is almost 150 years old. The predecessors of modern observation wheels existed in the 17th century – wooden carts in the Ottoman Empire, powered by strong men. This amusement was soon adopted in England. The modern wheel prototype was first installed at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. Europe’s oldest observation wheel is still operating in Prater Park in Vienna – it turns 123 this year. In 2019, our northern neighbours in Tallinn got their own wheel – it is placed on the roof of a shopping centre, and in clear weather you can see the coast of Finland from it. While the Finns have a sauna in one of the wheelchair cabins in Helsinki. However, the most famous observation wheel in Europe is the Millennium observation wheel London Eye, which at one point was the highest in the world (135 metres). For more than a decade, it has boasted the title of London’s most visited tourist attraction. It is with the famous “London Eye” that the transformation of the perception of observation wheels has begun, and more and more often such wheels are considered as a stand-alone attraction for tourists and citizens, which organically integrates into the urban environment and does not interfere with the daily rhythm of the city, neither with the visual image nor with unnecessary noise.
How is the Riga observation wheel being made?
The idea of the observation wheel has been discussed in Riga for several years, but only in July 2019 did Riga City Council decide that the idea of the observation wheel should be realised. As the most suitable place for the new object, the plot of land owned by the municipality in the part of Uzvaras Park between Raņķa Embankment and Slokas Street, was chosen. While the project implementer was determined in October at an auction for the allocation of building rights. This right was acquired by SIA “RPR Operators” – a company established specifically for the implementation of the Riga observation wheel project and whose Lithuanian parent company belongs to an international group of companies that develop entertainment and amusement infrastructure in various countries around the world. Already at the end of December, the construction project created by the company SIA “Projektēšanas Birojs A.I.D.E.” was submitted to Riga City Construction Board.
After several months of procedural actions and consultations with Riga City Construction Board and Riga City Council Department of City Development, an updated and supplemented construction project was submitted to the Construction Board in July 2020, but already in August the Office of the Riga City Architect issued an opinion supporting the idea of the observation wheel. In turn, the opinion of the citizens about the desired future development of the part of Uzvaras Park was found out in a public survey conducted by Riga City Construction Board in August and September. Currently, the project has been approved by the Construction board and design work has begun to open a 60-metre-high observation wheel in 2022 with 30 comfortable cabins equipped with air conditioning and heating to make the moment of relaxation pleasant in any weather.
We live in the century of experience. Adventure and emotions are more important than a magnet on the fridge. The Riga observation wheel and its facilities will allow both city residents and guests to experience the charm of Pārdaugava.