Riga Cathedral

Riga, Latvia

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.



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Doma laukums, Riga, Latvia
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Founded: 1211
Category: Religious sites in Latvia
Historical period: State of the Teutonic Order (Latvia)


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Elizabeth Law-Evans (6 months ago)
We happened upon this cathedral right at lunchtime as the daily short organ concert began. It was magical to sit in the cool of the cathedral and listen to a masterful performance! It's always special to visit an ancient house of worship where believers still gather. Don't miss the magnificent stained glass windows or the carving of St. Luke on the side of the pulpit -- he looks a little startled!
Alina German (7 months ago)
Very beautiful church, both outside and inside. The building has an indescribable historical value for country and its people. A place that must be visited when coming to Riga. Organ music, ascetic decoration, all this shows a rich historical heritage.
Alyson Singer (8 months ago)
12.00pm daily there is a 20 minute mini organ recital with a talented organist and her assistant. This organ is very beautiful to look at, let alone listening to it being played. It was fascinating to watch the stops being pulled out ahead of each piece to be played and the 4 tiered keyboard, let alone the leg work involved to play the bass notes. Really worth finding the time to walk around and then to chill and listen to a recital.
Nikos Gkekas (8 months ago)
It's a more beatiful cathedral from the outside. The interior is mostly spartan, but the magnificent organ is one of the largest of the world, has 6768 pipes and produces an excellent sound. There are daily concerts that last 20 minutes, usually at noon. The ticket price is high 10€ but it worth a visit as it is a unique experience.
A A (8 months ago)
The cathedral is old and it looks old. It needs a lot of money to bring it back to full glory. You can fill spirit of past times especially in cloister. To me this church was completely different I have ever seen, probably because it is in state needing renovation. It is a shame that this beautiful building looks like it looks but hopefully in near future it will be possible to admire it in full beauty. Entrance fee is €5 worth or not but supporting the cathedral is really good idea. The cathedral is housing one of Riga symbols - The Rooster. In my view it is a must when you are visiting Riga. Next door there is a museum devoted to Riga history, worth visiting too.
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