St. Peter’s Church [Pēterbaznīca]

St. Peter’s Church was not always a Lutheran church, dedicated to Saint Peter. It was a Catholic church until 1523.

The church has 3 distinct periods; 2 associated with Gothic and Romanesque building styles, the 3rd with the early Baroque period. Its wooden tower was destroyed several times but always rebuilt.

Now you can use an elevator till height of 72 m, and have a nice bird’s eye view of Riga from the observation platform. You can visit this church to see some exhibitions or to enjoy concerts, as well.

An interesting tradition the builders did was to hurl a glass from the top of the tower, the more pieces the vessel broke into, the greater the tower’s longevity.

*Photo credits to Froggy

St. Peter's Church

Interior of St. Peter's Church 1

Interior of St. Peter's Church 2

Interior of St. Peter's Church 3

Cat House [Kaķu māja]

The Cat House of Riga is one of the city’s landmarks built in 1909. This custard yellow art nouveau building at Meistaru 10/12 is probably named as such for the two black feline sculptures with arched backs and raised tails on its roof.

Now, the story behind the feline sculptures is quite interesting! Legend has it that it was a revenge of a wealthy businessman who was denied admission to the Great Guild. One has to learn that in that period, if you were trading and not in the Great Guild, you simply had not made it, which could have meant his business might have been affected as well.

However, his method of revenge was not very conventional. He clearly wanted everyone to see his disgruntlement towards the Great Guild.

This businessman happened to own the building across the House of the Great Guild. He then ordered two sculptures of the black felines to be placed at the roof of his building and for the cats’ backsides (A-hole) towards the House of the Great Guild!

The members of the Great Guild certainly did not take it lying down and took the wealthy businessman to court, engaging in a lengthy legal battle. Eventually, they came to a consensus that the wealthy businessman to have the feline sculptures turned around to face the House of the Great Guild and he was admitted to the Great Guild.

It was also rumoured that this pair of black feline sculptures cursed their sculptor as he fell to his death while putting them up! Ooohhh…. scary Black Cats!

*Photo credits to Froggy

Cat on Roof

Front Facade

Art Nouveau Front

House of Blackheads [Melngalvju nams]

This is easily one of the most impressive buildings in the Town Hall Square, the House of Blackheads. The Gothic style building erected in 1344 was a bachelor’s pad for the members of the merchants’ guild.

They held many festivals, carnivals and tournaments not only for themselves but also for the citizens of Riga. The balls however, were only for members and other aristocrats all over Europe. It was well known that even Russian tsars and tsarinas frequented such balls.

So now, why Blackheads? It may have come from of their patron saints, St Maurice, supposedly a black African Christian Roman commander who died as a martyr upon refusing to kill fellow Christians, through decapitation. His head was depicted on the Blackheads coat of arms, thus giving them their name.

Sadly, the architecture was bombed to ruins by the Germans in 1941 and demolished by the Soviets in 1948. Inspired by an engraving in the portal which read “Should you ever see me falling – raise me up, it’s your calling!” Riga rebuild this monument and in 1999 the reconstruction was completed.

It is a pity that the building is currently not open to the public as the President of Latvia has moved his offices here while Riga Castle is being renovated.

*Photo credits to Froggy

House of the Blackheads