AVOTU KVARTĀLI. How to combine suburbs, subcultures, maps, and a National typeface. UPDATED 14.05.21

During the Latvian Centenary there was a special typeface published - "Cīrulis Display" to honour its creator, one of the first Eastern European professional designers Ansis Cīrulis. A typeface most in Latvia would at least recognize.
Now, thanks to a design & branding studio Asketic, who reanimated this significant font and also lent it to CAPITAL R, we created a special edition Google map with must-see locations pinned down in the most progressive neighbourhood for suburban and subcultural live possibly - Avoti. The place where Cīrulis Display was born and even reborn.


At first, our readers might have already noticed us paying more interest in Avoti as one of the most invisible, yet most essential neighbourhoods in Rīga. Deriving its name "Water springs" from the drinking water sources located in the middle of the district centuries ago, Avoti has become an independent part of Rīga, though has been somewhat unfairly ignored - then being included in to a larger Moscow forstadt for many years or then wrongly assumed to be a part of the City Centre today.

Although Avoti has gained from both - by sharing a workers and industrial history of suburbs and owning mesmerizing brick architecture like in the Centre, this neighbourhood has become very particular and peculiar in its present content. You will ask why?

Well, because of the biggest concentration of creative spaces, centres, educational facilities, subculture bars and cafes per such a tiny district. And also because of a close proximity of the touristic Old Town, the wealthy and posh Centre and, most importantly, the Central Train terminal that will bring in the new Rail Baltica train very soon. Old town is packed, overcrowded and lost as a piece of authenticity, the Centre is expensive and will get boring. 

Meanwhile, with affordable prices (still), with enough empty building plots for new investment to float in rather than gentrificate the old housing, with a great subculture and multi-culture scene and amazing undervalued architecture "jazz" - Avoti is the new black.


And then, on Ādmiņu street 1/3 there was the famous typeface master himself owning a workshop. Ansis Cīrulis' (1883 - 1942) artistic heritage is characterized by letters with asymmetric widths, sliced cuts and various intrinsic features, and, by carefully studying forms and origins of his letters, "Asketic" re-created this new "Cīrulis Display" typeface for their Miesai design label more than a decade ago.

Ansis Cirulis
Yet only in 2017 Cīrulis Display was largely extended (includes adding an extensive European language support), and was released to public for the first time. Along with most of references to original handwriting from the 1920s, Asketic also introduced new forms, glyphs and features to match today's standards and needs (e.g. Ansis Cīrulis very rarely used lowercase). In result, it only took a few moments for the typeface to become the official font of Latvian National Centenary celebration.


To celebrate the recognition of both Avoti neighbourhood and it's fellow Ansis Cīrulis, we wanted to tell a story by fusing these two qualities together - a vibrant and progressive city district we adore, and a master, who even executed a commission interiour in Rīga Castle for the Latvian president in 1920s. Therefore a special edition Google map was born to introduce you with the Avoti district, and we located each general "Cīrulis Display" letter in Latvian per each coolest spot we suggest visiting while you explore the district!

Avoti, Rīga, Ansis Cīrulis
Despite having at least two times more great spaces, places, objects and people than could be shared with you, we went down to our difficultly chosen "final 24" list of the "Cīrulis Avoti Alphabetical" map:

Cozy, introvert subcultural bar with lo-fi interiour, wide selection of beers and regular live events every now and then.

Probably the best combination of ground drinks and hi-top second-hand literature in Rīga. We have already covered this book shop here!

When opening the "Miesai" studio/shop, "Asketic" found out Cīrulis himself was working literally 100 m around the corner at this address, adding more significance to their work and to the neighbourhood.


This is a very local suburban pizza and wrap place with their own speciality ingredients and localized taste. Multiple vegan options available, and Ziedoņdārzs park just around the corner!

The most important person in the area though was Augusts Deglavs (1862 - 1922). Here he wrote a monumental trilogy "Rīga", describing the ups and downs of Latvian people and life of Rīga in prior to Workers' revolution in 1905-06 taking place the most in nearby neighbourhoods.

There are a handful of "Hedgehog in the fog" street food bars around the city, and one is in Avoti, too! Probably, the best terrace in the area.
An independent art gallery showcasing adventurous, subcultural and experimental fine and not so fine arts.

Who knows if this was the first semi-zero shop in the city, yet it now works as a little hand-made vegan sauce, paste, tea and other sin-free product producer!

The only theatre in the area focusing on independent plays, adventurous spectacles and also dance performances/international guest visits.

Once Latvians had their own currency before Euro. To immortalize a note of 20 Lats with its famous ethnographic homestead, local artists Rudens Stencils + Thobek created this enormous mural in a backyard.

"Dance classes, workshops and other activities" is what "i-dance house" offers to anyone who likes stretching bones and heal their spirits.

Rīga is famous with its Art Nouveau variety spanning over 15 years and 800 examples. Two pieces in Avoti are universal representations of 2 significant ways to construction before WWI.
1) Eclectic Art Nouveau - first 5 years of 1900's with too many decorations and too much cultural mixture, yet good for your Instagram.
2) National Romanticism - expanding after 1905 Worker's revolution for 5 years to represent more of Latvian culture, folklore, history.

An organization living in a beautifully renovated wooden house and collecting and preserving history of Rīga's wooden architecture.

A legendary and beloved Soviet ad selling LADA cars. This is a top place for Instagram hunters, and we have already covered the story of this legendary firewall here!

A design store responsible for "Cīrulis Display", the world famous "R Ī G A" t-shirts and other great design works is located here.

This is the first local micro brewery's taproom in the area with extraordinary selection of other drinks. They just finished their crowdsourcing campaign that will result in a real manufacture nearby.

One of four "second breath - second chance" charity shops is located in Avoti. We suggest trying them all out e.g. for a good piece of literature.

This street was recently reconstructed along with Mūrnieku and Lienes streets nearby, and now the whole quarter resembles what Rīga and the workers life was like 110 years ago.

This industrial facade is only one of many factories once located in the area symbolizing the rise of industrialism in Avoti before WWI - massive train workshops, the first car factory in Imperial Russia, and more.

SALDĀ TERAPIJA (now moved to Stabu iela)
The very first all-vegan bakery and cafe in Rīga is famous with its cakes, desserts, wafers and, of course, the cīsiņš mīklā!

The first all-vegan cafe famous with its branches on weekends as well as a great price combo of yummy food and contemporary atmosphere.

A totally subcultural pub for all manga, anime, MMORPG and other fantasy fans. Offers drinks, board games, and funny music.

Once this abandoned house built in the 1930's was a hospital for STD illnesses. Before experiencing house fire in 2015 and being barricaded, it was a famous urban explorers and drug addict site.

The "Springtide garden" is one of the most famous green spaces in the city with a lovely frog-fountain, playground an a restaurant, that offers black (cherry) vegan gelato!


Auss artistic normcore bar for artsie crowd.

Baltic Analogue Lab analogue film workshop and culture space.

Cadets de Gascogne tasty bakery run by a real Frenchman with true street art and poetry twist due to the A. Čaka street (famous poet) 

Comics.lv The first and only real comics, manga, and graphic novels store in Riga.

Laska Bar tight, ground culture and drink space.

Look! contemporary art gallery, concentrating on the current generation of artists.

LOW extraordinary mini art gallery.

House of Languages a mini second-hand book store + library + community space that also provide language courses.

Night Shop Weird, but good enough 24-hour shop even with a "bar" - a place many visit for buying alcohol after 22:00 sort of legally. Funny or not, it's called "Surprise".

People work huge, international co-working space.

Taktika all for your skates and rolls, and street boards.

Trofeja - another micro brewery room with street food available.

Turza local zero waste grocery store.

Zuzeum emerging contemporary art and culture space.

This article was born in collaboration with design store Miesai.