Riga Cathedral is the Protestant cathedral in Riga, Latvia. Built near the River Daugava in 1211 by Livonian Bishop Albert of Riga, it is considered the largest medieval church in the Baltic states. It has undergone many modifications in the course of its history. Certainly one of the most recognisable landmarks in Latvia, the Cathedral is featured in or the subject of paintings, photographs and television travelogues.
At the end of the 14th and beginning of the 15th century, Riga Cathedral was enlarged by building the western cross-nave and side chapels and elevating the side walls of the central nave thus making the church into a basilica. At that time the tower walls were also raised and an octagonal pyramidal spire was added. This tower can be seen in the oldest picture of Riga Cathedral - a Sebastian Munster's cosmography dating back to 1559. According to V.Neimanis, supervisor of Riga Cathedral renovation works in the 19th century, Riga Cathedral Tower was the highest spire in the whole city of Riga at that time.
Riga Cathedral kept its appearance up to 1547, when on a Sunday before Pentecost a great fire broke out in the inner city and the Gothic spire of the cathedral burned down. A new tower with a pyramidal spire and two galleries were built by 1595. Riga Cathedral rooster dating back to that time can still be seen in the Cloister of the Cathedral. During the city siege in 1710, the cathedral roof was seriously damaged. Later during the reconstruction works, the rooves of the side naves were rebuilt, too, by changing their slope and covering up the round rose windows. The choir obtained a Baroque roof and the central nave - its eastern pediment with the year 1727 on it.
In 1772, Russian tsarina Catherine II prohibited further burials in churches in the whole territory of Russian Empire. Following sanitary considerations, the City Council set aside a piece of land for a city cemetery outside the city. Burials from Riga Cathedral were transferred there, as a result of which the floor level of the Cathedral was raised. In 1775, Riga City Council, on the grounds of the conclusions drawn by the engineers of those days, ordered the demolition of part of the tower spire and building the new present-day Baroque tower.
From 1881 to 1914, Riga Cathedral Building section of Riga Society of Researchers of History and Ancient Times carried out major reconstruction and renovation works in the church and the Cloister. As a result of these works, the Cathedral and the Cloister acquired their present-day appearance.
In the 20th century, during the Soviet times, two major reconstruction works took place. From 1959 to 1962, Riga Cathedral was adapted and turned into a concert hall - the altar was dismantled and the seats were installed to face the organ. From 1981 to 1984, a Dutch organ building company carried out a major organ reconstruction. At the same time, the Cathedral interior was renovated and all utilities were reinstalled.References:
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.