Riga Castle (Rīgas pils) is a castle on the banks of River Daugava. The castle was founded in 1330. This structure was thoroughly rebuilt between 1497 and 1515. Upon the castle's seizure by the Swedes, they constructed spacious annexes in 1641. The fortress was continually augmented and reconstructed between the 17th and 19th centuries. Sometime in the 1930s, some renovation work was done by architect Eižens Laube. The Latvian government declared the castle its residence in 1938. Today it is the official residence of the President of Latvia as well as home to several museums.

The castle was built on the basis of a treaty between Riga and the Livonian Order - in 13th century Rigans had rebelled against the Order and demolished its original castle in center of the town. Due to constant fights with Rigans the Order chose to rather build a new castle behind borders of the town, than rebuild the original castle. The site occupied by Convent of the Saint Spirit - a hospital and shelter for the poor - was chosen and the convent moved to location of the original castle. The castle served as residence of Master of the Livonian Order, but due to continuous conflicts with Rigans the residence was moved to Castle of Cēsis sometime before the castle was destroyed by Rigans in 1484. The Rigans eventually lost the fight and were forced to rebuild the castle - the restoration was finished in 1515. After the Union of Wilno order cased to exist in 1561 the Castle became Lithuanian and in 1569 - Polish-Lithuanian stronghold. In 1621. Riga came under Swedish rule and the Castle was used to house Swedish administration.

After the city came under Russian rule in early 18th century, the castle housed administration and courts of Riga Governorate and served as residence of Governors General. In 1922 the castle became residence of the President of Latvia. After Soviet occupation the castle housed Council of People Commissars of Latvian SSR in 1940-1941. In 1941 Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union moved into northern part of the castle, which therefore became known as the Pioneer Castle. Several museums are housed in the southern part of the castle. After Independence of Latvia was restored the northern part of the Castle again became the residence of President of Latvia.

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Daugavas gāte, Riga, Latvia
See all sites in Riga

Details

Founded: 1497-1515
Category: Castles and fortifications in Latvia
Historical period: State of the Teutonic Order (Latvia)

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Iñigo Calonge (4 months ago)
Nice castle in the middle of the city
Ftck Zmt (6 months ago)
Got in nice, big fighting here with waiter. Had to take shower later. Good thing I was staying at Ridzene, where they actually have showers.
Artur Cholascinski (6 months ago)
Interesting place. It was especially interesting during 100th anniversary of WWI end. Lots of people and lots of candles for all victims. For me it was additionaly superb as they hoisted Polish flag along with Latvian, to commemorate 100th anniversary of Polish independence. Thank you!
Fatima Johnston (7 months ago)
Beautiful place. Will recommend a visit .
Jose Pablo Munoz Urrutia (9 months ago)
Beautiful views of the city and excellent picture opportunity there, please also make some time for a nice beer in one of the many bars in the area... They have a great selection ready for you
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.