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House of the Blackheads
House of the Blackheads, a venue for exhibitions, concerts and other events and the Latvian president’s temporary residence, is a landmark of Riga Old City and the Latvian capital’s most magnificent edifice.
House of the Blackheads was built in 1334 as a venue for meetings and banquets held by Riga’s various public organizations. The building was destroyed by bombs in the Second World War but was fully rebuilt in 1999. Before it became the Latvian president’s temporary residence, tourists from various countries flocked through the doors of the House of the Blackheads each day, leaving their rapturous impressions in the guest-book.
Travel through the centuries at House of the Blackheads
- Admire the opulent facade of the House of the Blackheads featuring various architectural styles and artistic trends of various periods,
- Take a tour of the House of the Blackheads and picture in your imagination the receptions and concerts that were held at the sumptuous Conference Hall during the times of the Blackheads Society.
- Take a look at the works of our artisans, craftsmen and antique restorers: crystal chandeliers, the painted ceiling of the Conference Hall, the exact replicas of 19th century chairs and sofas, weaponry and armor sets, portraits of the nobility in gilded frames, stained glass with colorful ornamentation, the Blackheads’ Coat of Arms and girandoles.
- Inspect the museum’s treasures at the Medieval cellar;
- See the items that once belonged to the Brotherhood of Blackheads: snuffboxes, silverware, paintings and pottery;
- Explore not only the oldest historical exhibits but also those from more recent times;
- Attend festive events which in the interiors of House of the Blackheads will have a special aura and a truly festive atmosphere;
- See the replica of the Statue of Roland, symbol of the Medieval Hanseatic cities, with the original located in St. Peter’s Church.
The Brotherhood of Blackheads
Towards the end of the 14th century, the guilds uniting Riga’s merchants and craftsmen were joined by a brotherhood of banquet caterers to upper classes which quite significantly called themselves Blackheads. Its members included young and unmarried merchants of foreign, mostly German, descent. When traveling and supplying exotic goods from overseas, they managed to protect their ships and caravans from pirates and robbers. The Blackheads chose St. Maurice as their patron saint, who traditionally was depicted as a black soldier in knight’s armor. After obtaining their tenant’s rights and entering holy wedlock, members of the brotherhood become part of Riga’s patrician elite, serving as councilors, members of the Great Guild and respected members of the city’s community. The 17th century merchant organization, the Brotherhood of the Blackheads, became the sole tenant of the House of the Blackheads.
If I am destined to ruination, I will be rebuilt by you!
A number of projects were worked out in post-war years to rebuild the House of the Blackheads and later archaeological excavations were carried out at the site. The jpob got under way in 1995, and since 1999, Riga again takes pride in the reborn edifice which has become brilliant testimony of Rigans’ affection and craftsmanship. The prophecy that was once written on the building’s doors: “If I am destined to ruination, I will be rebuilt by you!” has come true!