Nativity of Christ Cathedral

Riga, Latvia

The Nativity of Christ Cathedral (Kristus Piedzimšanas pareizticīgo katedrāle) was built to a design by Nikolai Chagin in a Neo-Byzantine style between 1876 and 1883, during the period when the country was part of the Russian Empire. It is the largest Orthodox cathedral in the Baltic provinces built with the blessing of the Russian Tsar Alexander II on the initiative of local governor-general Pyotr Bagration and bishop Veniamin Karelin. The Nativity of Christ Cathedral is renowned for its icons, some of which were painted by Vasili Vereshchagin.

During the First World War German troops occupied Riga and turned its largest Russian Orthodox cathedral into a Lutheran church. In independent Latvia the Nativity of Christ Cathedral once again became an Orthodox cathedral in 1921. Archbishop Jānis Pommers, a native Latvian, played a key part in the defence of the cathedral. In the early 1960s Soviet authorities closed down the cathedral and converted its building into a planetarium. The cathedral has been restored since Latvia regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

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Address

Brīvības iela, Riga, Latvia
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Details

Founded: 1876-1883
Category: Religious sites in Latvia
Historical period: Part of the Russian Empire (Latvia)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Craig Dunn (7 months ago)
Very special place. Highly recommend a visit when in Riga.
Alan Fogarty (8 months ago)
Beautiful building and easy to find . You can view the freedom mounument, nativity and the art deco area all in one stroll
George On tour (8 months ago)
The Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral is the largest Orthodox church in Riga, which has withstood the Soviet-era as a planetarium and restaurant, but once again has become a sacral building, where Orthodox church services take place on a regular basis. The cathedral’s founding stone was laid on July 3, 1876 by Riga Bishop Serafim (Protopov). The initial design did not feature a separate belfry but as the Russian Czar Alexander II presented a surprise gift (12 bells) the design was improved with one more dome for bells. The official opening took place on October 28, 1884.
Chamara Wijesinghe (10 months ago)
There's a nice bird's eye view of this church from the skyline bar if Raddison hotel. The golden domes looks beautiful from there. But when you go to the church itself it's not the most impressive. Active church and no photographs are allowed inside. Inside is just a typical orthodox church interior.
Paul Graves (11 months ago)
Pretty church, just nothing like the church of the spilled blood. No photos are allowed to be taken inside. Nearly got thrown out for these. Quite rude actually.
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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.

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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.

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