The three historical houses in Old Town Riga built closely together have been called the Three Brothers for centuries – legend has it they had been built by three men of one family.
The Three Brothers are the oldest medieval dwelling houses in Riga. In medieval times, Maza Pils Street was located in the outskirts of Riga and craftsmen lived there. Today, the buildings that are several centuries old house the Latvian Museum of Architecture and the State Inspectorate for Heritage Protection.
Manufacturing and trade were carried out in the oldest of the Three Brothers houses. This building was built around 1490 – the time when Riga established close links with Dutch merchants and the city’s architecture showed influences of Dutch Renaissance architecture.
The building is decorated with Gothic niches and a stepped pediment, while the portal made in 1746 has been moved to the middle brother during restoration. The house had one big room where the work, trade, and everyday life took place, and it has retained its original appearance.
The middle brother is the richest one of the three, built in 1646. It is one of the most typical, but also most modern dwelling houses of the 17th century. There is an inscription "Soli deo gloria!" (“Glory to God alone!”) above the entrance, and the facade features the style of Dutch Mannerism. In contrast to the oldest building, this one had a spacious room with large windows above the ground-floor hall, and there were special residential premises on the yard side of the building.
The third brother was built in the second half of the 17th century and had small apartments on each floor. The youngest building is the narrowest and the smallest one of the three brothers. It has a very interesting facade element – a mask, which, according to the owners of the building, protected its inhabitants from evil spirits.
Visiting the Latvian Museum of Architecture, also go to the backyard of the Three Brothers and the hall with a reconstructed model of a room from the 15th-18th century and a renovated fireplace with a chimney of the 15th-16th century.