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Story of Riga Cathedral

Gian Luka • 5 minutes read • March 24th, 2017
Dear friends, today I will tell you about one of the iconic buildings of Riga, which, in fact, has become a hallmark of the city - about Riga Dome Cathedral.

There are several Dome Cathedrals around the world, as the word takes after the Latin sayings "The House of God" and "to the greatest and best God" (Domus Dei and D.O.M. respectively).
The cathedral was founded in 1211 by the Bishop of Riga. Since the plans were great (especially for that time), the construction was completed only in 1270.
On the right is the cathedral in 1300, on the left - new towers planned for construction. We'll talk about them below.

It was planned to build 2 towers in the cathedral. However, only one was built due to lack of money. Initially, the cathedral was the Catholic one. It carried faith to the citizens of Riga through the centuries and stood firm until its decoration began to be changed during the reformation in 1524. In 1547, it was completely lost because of the destructive fire.
Cathedral before the fire.

In 1595, the tower was rebuilt and a wooden spire was built on it. It was taller than the 123-meter spire of St. Peter's Church and reached 140 meters.
Engravings from the book: W. Neumann "Das mittelalterliche Riga" Berlin 1892

This spire required constant repairs and maintenance. Because it began to dilapidate, it was decided to dismantle it. In 1766, a domed spire was erected instead of it, which reduced the height of the cathedral by almost 50 meters. Now the tower's height is 96 meters.
The cathedral in the second half of the 19th century.

Because of the reconstruction, the cathedral is executed in a unique architectural style, which combines the Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and several other styles.
Cathedral in the Soviet times.

An interesting fact. The River Daugava often broke its banks. In order to protect the cathedral, the cathedral square was fortified in a natural way. Now there is a feeling that the cathedral is below the square, although initially they were on the same level.
Panorama of a part of the square.

Riga Dome Cathedral is the main cathedral of the Latvian Lutheran Church, and the organ is one of its main attractions! It's really gorgeous and I recommend everyone to listen to it!

The first organ was installed in the cathedral at the end of the 16th century. It was regularly rebuilt and improved until it was decided to change it to the current one. The new organ was installed in 1884. Its height is 25 meters, and the number of pipes is more than 6700.
Organ in the early 20th century.

It is worth noting that the organ's facade remained untouched after the replacement. It still refers to 1601. Therefore, the front row of pipes performs a rather decorative role, since they have not piped for a long time. The new organ, in fact, is built behind the old body frame.
The organ is the largest in the Baltic countries and one of the largest made by German masters. Well-known composers, for example, Franz Liszt and Max Reger, composed specially fo it.
As for the cathedral's interior, it was rebuilt many times, and during the Soviet Union era, it served just like an organ hall. After receiving the independence, it became the Lutheran Cathedra again.
Interior decoration in 1896.

The Soviet-era organ hall.

Nowadays cathedral.

The cathedral itself "heads" the monastery complex, on the territory of which was the Dome School and the monastery itself.

There is a very beautiful courtyard (which reminded me either of Vatican or Hogwarts) inside the cathedral and a small exhibition of artifacts that have been preserved in the cathedral.
The exhibition included cannons, old clocks and even parts of the columns.

I really liked the courtyard. It's very cozy.

Unknown steel structures, no one has explained me what it was...

If you are in Riga, do not forget to visit this wonderful place!

Finally, here's the Vivaldi concert, organ, Riga Dome Cathedral!
Author: Gian Luka
Translated by: Olesya Zhukova

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