The Splendid Palace in Riga is a must visit destination for film lovers from around the world. In fact, the theatre has such historical significance, it’s basically a badge of honor to say you’ve seen a film there.
Located just a short walk from Old Town Riga, the Splendid Palace is the place to see both Latvian and international films. The venue is home to national and international film festivals, Latvian film premieres, and other special events you don’t want to miss.
The Splendid Palace has been promoting quality film for the citizens of Latvia and visitors alike since the venue opened on December 30, 1923.
For a truly unique and special evening, consider adding a night at the cinema to your Riga itinerary. You won’t be disappointed.
To learn more about what makes the Splendid Palace such an incredible destination, keep reading.
10 Interesting Facts About Splendid Palace Riga
1. The Splendid Palace wasn’t always the Splendid Palace.
It’s true, the Splendid Palace Riga has had other names. While the theater originally opened as the Splendid Palace back in December 1923, it’s name was changed to Kino Riga in 1952.
This was during the Soviet occupation of Latvia and it has been reported the Russians did not approve of the original name. I imagine there is more to this story, though I am not privy to the details.
What we do know is that Latvia obtained independence from the former Soviet Union on August 21, 1991. Following a renovation in 2010, the theater was subsequently renamed the Splendid Palace in September 2011.
2. It was the very first theater in the Baltic region to show sound films.
One of the reasons the Splendid Palace is so famous is becuase of its remarkable history. The theater was highly regarded from the beginning due to the quality of films presented along with the high level of service provided to guests.
During the silent film era, the Splendid Palace was also known for its extraordinary orchestra that played to accompany the films.
If that wasn’t enough, the Splendid Palace also became the first theater in the Baltics to screen a sound film in October 1929. That film was The Singing Fool, an American musical drama by Lloyd Bacon.
Unfortunately, this film includes racist depictions of African Americans so I do not recommend it. Certainly there are better films out there from this period.
3. It was the first free standing building in Riga intended solely for cinema.
Public film screenings began in North America and Europe in the 1890s. In these early days, films were screened in storefronts, event halls, personal residences, and temporary theaters.
On December 30, 1923, the Splendid Palace became the very first venue in Riga intended to be used exclusively for screening films.
4. It is a National Architectural Monument.
Due to its unique and impressive architecture and design, the Splendid Palace has been deemed a National Architectural Monument in Latvia.
The opulent theater features a neo-baroque exterior and neo-Rococco interior. Visitors entering the splendid Palace are greeted with a round lobby painted green and decorated with historical paintings and plush furniture.
Once inside the theater, guests will feel as though they are attending the opera. The seating area is filled with plush red seating, high ceilings, and white balconies with gold trim. It’s one of the most impressive movie theaters you’ll ever visit.
5. The first film shown at Splended Palace was Under Two Flags.
The first film to be screened in front of an audience at the Splendid Palace Riga was called Under Two Flags, shown on opending day December 30, 1923.
Under Two Flags was a silent American drama by director Tod Browning. The film was an adaptation based on a novel of the same name by English author Ouida. The novel is about an English aristocrat who comes into financial troubles, fakes his own death, and disappears to Algeria.
6. The interior is decorated with art from famous Latvian artists.
Inside the main hall guests can view work by Latvian sculptors Rihards Maurs and Jekabs Legzdins.
There are also several impressive paintings by Latvian artist Hermanis Grinbergs, who is also responsible for painting the ceiling of the theater.
7. Guided tours of the theatre are available.
Due to the fascinating and important history of the Riga Splendid Palace, not to mention the beauty of its architecture, the venue offers weekly tours for guests interested in learning more about the facility and its role in the history of cinema.
Tours of the Splendid Palace take place every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. The tour lasts approximately 40 minutes and costs 6 Euros.
There are also two other options, one includes a snack and a glass of sparkling wine for 11.5 Euros, and another that includes all of the above along with a screening of the film Riga Story for 14 Euros. The film lasts approximately 30 minutes and tells the history of Riga.
Visitors can sign up for the tours by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling +37167043678.
8. The Splendid Palace is known for it’s high quality programming.
The Splendid Palace is highly regarded for the quality of films selected for screening. Included on the calendar are arthouse films and international films well received at prominent film festivals from around the world.
The theater also works to promote Lativan films to national and international audiences.
9. The venue streams live concerts, ballet, and opera performance from around the world.
The venue also streams live concerts, operas and ballet performances from theaters, opera houses and festivals around the world. In the past they have streamed live performance from La Scala Opera House in Milan, Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, and even Salsburg Festival in Austria.
10. The Splendid Palace is home to the Riga International Film Festival
The Riga International Film Festival is held annually at the Splendid Palace. This year’s event will take place form October 15, 2020 to October 25, 2020.
The festival was founded in 2014 and has since become one of the largest cultural events in Latvia. The 10 day festival features national and international fims in a variety of categories. In additional to screenings, the event also features the opportunity for dialogue between the viewers and film makers.
Full access festival passes begin at 99 Euros if purchased early. Tickets and event information can be found at the Riga International Film Festival website.
The Splendid Palace is open daily from 12:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Show times will vary depending on the season. For most of the year shows begin in the early afternoon. Tickets can be purchased online in advance or at the box office.
I truly hope you have enjoyed learning more about the Splendid Palace in Riga and that you’ve been inspired to visit. If you enjoyed this post please consider sharing it. Thanks for reading.
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Eden FitePart-time Traveler | Dog Lover | Avoider of Crowds
I help busy people find creative ways to travel more.