Riga – Old Church of St. Gertrude

The current church was constructed between 1866 and 1869, but is the seventh church of the same name to be built on or around this site. Riga has been attacked numerous times over the centuries, and this church has traditionally been outside of the relative safety of the city walls. This made it easy to attack, which forces from France, Sweden and Russia have all done, each time destroying it.

The first church here was built at around the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and the first six churches were all made of wood. The being made of wood certainly didn’t help its longevity, but the city authorities refused the church permission to build it from stone in 1778. The French set fire to the area in 1812, and the church didn’t survive the blaze. Nor did any building of the suburb it was in, due to the slightly bizarre rule that only structures inside the city walls could be made from stone.

The organ dates from 1906 and is still in use today, although there’s a restoration fund currently running to finance that project.

The interior is bright and well-lit. The church has strong connections with the German community and it is called the ‘old church’ as a second was built between 1903 and 1906 to meet the needs of the Latvian speaking population. This church now continues to cater for the needs of the German speaking Lutheran church goers.

Stained-glass window.

One of the church aisles. The church congregation shrank to just a couple of hundred of people by the 1980s, but there has been an increase since the end of communism in the country.