34. Esplanade Square
To the north-east of Old Riga, between Brīvības and O.Kalpaka Boulevards, and Elizabetes and K.Valdemāra ielas there is the former Esplanade Square. It is a small part of the former vacant area around the Riga fortress that was preserved for army training after of the city’s ramparts were taken down. Various exhibitions (including grand exhibition of production, arts and crafts devoted to the 700th anniversary of Riga), army parades, Song and other festivals, and nowadays also Poetry days are organised in the Esplanade.
Esplanade Square is surrounded by three monumental and artistically high-value municipal buildings. The oldest of them is the Orthodox Cathedral (1876 - 1884), designed by an architect Robert Pflug, that was allowed to be built there by the Ministry of War as an exception. The impressive architectural monument of historic style is formed using Byzantines patterns. Educators from St. Petersburg Academy of Art have taken part in the decoration of the splendid interior of the cathedral.
By the end of the 19th century, surmounting opposition of the Ministry of War, permission was acquired for building a couple of municipal buildings on one part of Esplanade Square. In 1902 – 1905, on the present O.Kalpaka Boulevard 13, Commercial School of Stock Exchange Committee (at present: State Art Academy) was built. This explicitly pictorial building of historic style, designed by the architect Wilhelm Brokslaf, was structured according to a tradition started in England in the 18th century, namely keeping to the patterns of Gothic art being widespread in territory of cisalpine.
The Art Museum of the city on K.Valdemāra iela 10a, near the building of Commercial School, was built in 1903 – 1905. During the design of this building the architect Vilhelms Neimanis, its author, supposedly kept in mind the fact that the most famous museums in the world were established in old castles. Apparently, therefore, the Art Museum acquired forms similar to castle architecture of the Baroque period. At the same time lighting for the museum premises (with overhead lighting) and functional arrangement of exhibition halls were structured in accordance with the most modern requirements.