Riga – St. John’s Church

There has been a religious building on this site since the thirteenth century, with the Catholic church functioning until 1522. That was the year of the Reformation in Riga and the building was taken out of religious use and for a time was used as a stable for animals.

During the Napoleonic Wars the Russians used the building as a warehouse, but it was again later brought back into use as a church. Indeed the church has gone through numerous fires, restorations, rebuilds and improvements. One of these restorations took place after the end of the Second World War, when the roof and floor were badly damaged.

Slightly irritatingly, there were information boards around the church, but some of them were in the roped off areas. This isn’t an ideal situation for a visitor, but the two information boards that were readable were interesting and informative (as an information board should be….).

This is a donation billboard from 1761, thanking those who had contributed to paying for a new church organ. The church refers to it as “the oldest known social marketing in the city”, although there are some boards like this in the UK as well, but they were sometimes more to prove that the donor’s money hadn’t been pinched by the church staff….

The nave stands 26 metres high and this is a fine example of Gothic rib vaulting.

The pulpit.

The organ.

The nave, albeit slightly lop-sided (the photo, not the church). It’s a fine church right in the heart of Riga, today used by the Lutherans, although more information boards would have perhaps improved this visit.