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
See all sites in Riga

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 (4 months ago)
Very special place. Highly recommend a visit when in Riga.
Alan Fogarty (5 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 (5 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 (7 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 (8 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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Lübeck Cathedral is a large brick-built Lutheran cathedral in Lübeck, Germany and part of the Lübeck UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1173 Henry the Lion founded the cathedral to serve the Diocese of Lübeck, after the transfer in 1160 of the bishop's seat from Oldenburg in Holstein under bishop Gerold. The then Romanesque cathedral was completed around 1230, but between 1266 and 1335 it was converted into a Gothic-style building with side-aisles raised to the same height as the main aisle.

On the night of Palm Sunday (28–29 March) 1942 a Royal Air Force bombing raid destroyed a fifth of the town centre. Several bombs fell in the area around the church, causing the eastern vault of the quire to collapse and destroying the altar which dated from 1696. A fire from the neighbouring cathedral museum spread to the truss of the cathedral, and around noon on Palm Sunday the towers collapsed. An Arp Schnitger organ was lost in the flames. Nevertheless, a relatively large portion of the internal fittings was saved, including the cross and almost all of the medieval polyptychs. In 1946 a further collapse, of the gable of the north transept, destroyed the vestibule almost completely.

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The cathedral is unique in that at 105 m, it is shorter than the tallest church in the city. This is the consequence of a power struggle between the church and the guilds.

The 17 m crucifix is the work of the Lübeck artist Bernt Notke. It was commissioned by the bishop of Lübeck, Albert II. Krummendiek, and erected in 1477. The carvings which decorate the rood screen are also by Notke.

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In the funeral chapels of the southern aisle are Baroque-era memorials by the Flemish sculptor Thomas Quellinus.