Palaces, manors and town halls in Latvia

House of Blackheads

House of the Blackheads (Melngalvju nams) is a building situated in the old town of Riga. The original building was erected during the first third of the 14th century for the Brotherhood of Blackheads, a guild for unmarried German merchants in Riga. Major works were done in the years 1580 and 1886, adding most of the ornaments. The structure was bombed to a ruin by the Germans June 28, 1941 and the remains demolished by ...
Founded: ca. 1334 | Location: Riga, Latvia

Small & Great Guild Hall

During the centuries of German economic domination, the guilds were Riga's power brokers. The former, dating from 1384, was the home of the merchants, while the latter held the city's artisans. These slightly different audiences are reflected in the respective usage of the buildings today: while the Great Guild is home to the Latvian Symphony Orchestra, its smaller cousin hosts conferences and the occasional disco. The ...
Founded: 1384 | Location: Riga, Latvia

Latvian National Theatre

The Latvian National Theatre (Latvijas Nacionalais teatris) was built between 1899-1902 by the design of architect Augusts Reinbergs, becoming Riga's second (Russian) theatre. It closed during the First World War; on the 18th of November 1918, Latvia's independence was declared in the theatre building. In 1917 the first shows in Latvian were held in the theatre. The Latvian National Theatre was founded 30 November, 1919, ...
Founded: 1899-1902 | Location: Riga, Latvia

National Opera House

The National Opera House was constructed in 1863 by architect Ludwig Bohnstedt from St. Petersburg, for the then German-speaking City Theatre. It has been refurbished several times; 1882-1887 (following a fire in 1882), 1957–1958, 1991-1995 (following independence). A modern annex was added in 2001 with a 300-seat New Hall.
Founded: 1863 | Location: Riga, Latvia

Rundale Palace

Rundāle Palace is one of the two major baroque palaces built for the Dukes of Courland in what is now Latvia, the other being Jelgava Palace. The palace was built in two periods, from 1736 until 1740 and from 1764 until 1768. It was constructed to a design by Bartolomeo Rastrelli as a summer residence of Ernst Johann von Biron, the Duke of Courland. Following Biron's fall from grace, the palace stood empty until the ...
Founded: 1736-1768 | Location: Rundāle, Latvia

Latvian Academy of Sciences

The Academy of Sciences edifice was built after World War II, between 1951 and 1961, collecting the necessary financing from the newly established kolkhozes in Latvia and - as further expenses increased, collecting the finances as 'voluntary donations' deducted from the salaries of the Latvian rural population. The building is decorated with several hammers and sickles as well as Latvian folk ornaments and motifs. The sp ...
Founded: 1951-1961 | Location: Riga, Latvia

Sigulda New Castle

The Sigulda manor center began to develop in the fore-castle area of Sigulda Medieval Castle during the 17th century. There are still a few remaining 18th and 19th century buildings built during the ownership of the Von Borghs and Kropotkins. These are the Summer Castle, the New Castle, the White Castle, the vagar's (supervisor of serfs) house, the servants' house, a barn, a laundry house and a vegetable and fruit basemen ...
Founded: 1878-1881 | Location: Sigulda, Latvia

Birini Palace

Bīriņi Palace was built by Riga architect Friedrich Wilhelm Hess between 1857 and 1860 for Baltic-German baron August von Pistohlkors. It has two floors with higher three floor risalit in the centre. All four corners of the building are adorned with towers - three of these towers are small, decorative but southwestern tower is larger. The palace is asymmetric as this was required by the rules of Neo-Gothic. It is surrou ...
Founded: 1857-1860 | Location: Limbaži, Latvia

Jelgava Palace

Jelgava or Mitava Palace is the largest Baroque style palace in the Baltic states. It was built in the 18th century based on the design of Bartolomeo Rastrelli as a residence for the Dukes of Courland in their capital - Mitava (today Jelgava). The palace was founded by Ernst Johann von Biron in 1738 on an island between the Lielupe river and its branches. The site had borne the residence of the former Courland dukes of th ...
Founded: 1738-1772 | Location: Jelgava, Latvia

Cesvaine Palace

Cesvaine Palace was built in 1896 for the German baron Emil von Wulf (not to be confused with the von Wolf baronial family). Authors of the project were architects Hans Grisebach and August Dinklage from Berlin. The palace is built in the late Tudor Neo-Renaissance style. It is located next to the old medieval castle ruins, remains from the old bishops castle. At the end of the 19th century, Germany abandoned the reprodu ...
Founded: 1896 | Location: Cesvaine, Latvia

Mezotne Palace

Mežotne Palace was built in Classicism style during 1798-1802 for a teacher and governess of the grandchildren of Russian Empress Catherine II, Charlotte von Lieven (1742–1828). Architects of the palace were famous Italian Giacomo Quarenghi and Johann Gottfried Adam Berlitz, architect of the Durbe Manor and the Kazdanga palace. Simultaneously with the palace there has also been developed an English style landscape park ...
Founded: 1798-1802 | Location: Mežotne, Latvia

Durbe Manor

Durbe as was first mentioned in written sources as Šlokenbeka manor in 1475. Built in 1671, the manor was reconstructed in classical form between 1820 and 1823 according to the project of architect Johann Gottfried Adam Berlitz who rebuilt the façade with a wedding-cake portico and Ionic columns in the 1820s. From 1789 to 1808, Ernst Karl Philip von Groth used the property as a summerhouse. From 1818 to 1838 ...
Founded: 1820-1823 | Location: Tukums, Latvia

Gaujiena Manor

In 1818 the estate of Gaujiena was bought by Baron Adolf von Wulff. Gaujiena remained the in the possession of the von Wulff family for 100 years, during which more than 16 buildings were put up and the park laid out over an area of 12 hectares. The complete manor ensemble took shape during the 19th century and in the early 20th century, and consisted of 30 buildings and structures, 17 of which have been retained in good ...
Founded: 18th-19th century | Location: Gaujiena, Latvia

Aizupe Manor

Aizupe Manor (Latvian: Aizupes muižas pils) was built in late classicism style in 1823. In 1561 the estate was the property of the Duke, who granted the manor to his counselor Salamon Henning. In 1719, the manor became property of his heirs, and later von Koskulu"s, and von Mirbahu"s. From 1793 to 1920, the manor was in the hands of the Hahn family. The manor then remained a 19th century farm complex with resi ...
Founded: 1823 | Location: Vāne, Latvia

Vergale Palace

Vērgale Palace was originally built in the 18th century, it was remodeled for the owner Baron von Behr in 1837. The building currently houses the Vērgale school.
Founded: 1837 | Location: Vērgale, Latvia

Kazdanga Palace

The first manor house was made out of wood and the new palace was built in 1800-1804 in the late classical style, designed according to the project by the German architect J. G. Berlitz. There is stone bridge, leading to the palace. On the other side of the river there are remnants of the manor buildings; house of the servants, stables, house of the steward and barns. The palace was burned down by local peasants during th ...
Founded: 1800-1804 | Location: Kazdanga, Latvia

Kabile Manor

Kabile manor lands was originally owned by Heinrich von Soblech (around 1580). Duke Wilhelm gave this feud to Matthias II von der Recke in 1619. Manor became the property of Jochan Ditrich von Behr in 1687. Since 1810 it was owned by Count Heinrich von Keiserling, who sold this property to Otto von Lieven in 1854. After the death of his son Kabile manor was managed by widow Baroness von Wolf born von der Recke. She lost h ...
Founded: 1734-1740 | Location: Kabile, Latvia

Dikli Manor

Dikļi Manor was the property of von Wolf family in the 19th century. Dikli Palace was built for Baron P. von Wolf in 1896. Covering forms of the central facade are repeating type-lines of mansard roofs' side risalites. That kind of treatment of German Beo-Broque style is not a copy of abroad masterpieces, but unique creation using international language of style and adapting it to the local culture enviroment. Mansar ...
Founded: 1896 | Location: Kocēni, Latvia

Ezere Manor

Ezere Manor (Ezeres muižas pils), also called Lielezere Manor,was originally built in 1750, it has been remodeled several times by a series of owners. Since 1922 the building has housed the Ezere secondary school. Capitulation of Courland Pocket was signed here on 9 May 1945.
Founded: 1750 | Location: Ezere, Latvia

Firck Palace

Firck Palace (Firksa muižas pils) was built for Baron von Firck in 1883. The building currently houses the Talsi Regional Museum.
Founded: 1883 | Location: Talsi, Latvia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.