St. Peter's Church

Riga, Latvia

First record of the St. Peter's Church dates back to 1209. The church was a masonry construction and therefore undamaged by a city fire in Riga that year. The history of the church can be divided into three distinct periods: two associated with Gothic and Romanesque building styles, the third with the early Baroque period. The middle section of the church was built during the 13th century, which encompasses the first period. The only remnants of this period are located in the outer nave walls and on the inside of a few pillars in the nave, around which larger pillars were later built.

The second period dates to 15th century, when master builders Johannes Rumeschottel from Rostock supervised the construction of the sanctuary, based on the St. Mary's Church in Rostock. The old bell tower was replaced in 1456, and a bell was hung in the new tower in 1477. A 136 metres (446 ft) octagonal steeple was added to the tower in 1491, which, along with the church's front facade, dominated the silhouette of Riga. The tower collapsed 11 March 1666, destroying a neighboring building and burying eight people in the rubble.

Three identical portals by Bindenshu and Andreas Peterman were added in 1692. The third period of construction dates to 1671–90. The newly renovated church served for a mere 29 years, for lightning struck and set fire to the tower and church 10 May 1721. Only the church and tower walls remained standing after the fire. Reconstruction of the church began immediately under the direction of the master carpenter Tom Bochum and master mason Kristofer Meinert. By 1723 the building already had a temporary roof. Johann Heinrich Wilbern took over supervision of the project in 1740, and under his direction a new 69.6 metres steeple was built in 1746.

The church burned down 29 June 1941. Conservation and restoration began 1954 with research by architect Pēteris Saulītis. The work was carried out from 1967 to 1983 under the direction of Saulītis and architect Gunārs Zirnis. The St. Peter's Latvian Lutheran congregation resumed services in the church 1991, and the church was returned to the ownership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia on 4 April 2006.

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Details

Founded: 1209
Category: Religious sites in Latvia
Historical period: State of the Teutonic Order (Latvia)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Iñigo Calonge (4 months ago)
The best place I have seen in all my travels around Baltic. It's wonderful every corner you can visit and you can take very nice pictures from the 4 different facades. Is a must if you visit the country. Don't forget it or you'll miss one of the just wonderful building in this city. In Riga it's my favourite place to see it. I take a hostel not far from it. Sire you will love it.
Tim Michael Vesper (4 months ago)
Not really worth the money for visiting the tower imho.. The view is great but it is really expensive and there are better and cheaper viewing platforms in Riga
Yury Ramanousky (5 months ago)
The view up there is just amazing. Cost is 9 euros for adult and totally worth it. Not so much interesting in church itself.
Royal Agamirzadeh (5 months ago)
It was incredible nice experience. Climbing upstairs with an elevator is highly recommended. Staff was super kind and helpful
Arthur H (6 months ago)
Amazing view above all Riga ! It's a must see if you visit this city. So nice !
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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.