Riga – St. Peter’s Church

Work on the first St. Peter’s Church started in 1209 and its stone construction meant that it survived a fire which destroyed most of the buildings in the city. The church was extended in the fifteenth century, but the Reformation had a big impact on the city and mobs of angry locals damaged the city’s churches. The Lutherans took over the running of St. Peter’s, although by that time the old altarpiece had been destroyed.

Martin Luther, the great religious reformer. Although he said that followers of his beliefs shouldn’t call themselves Lutherans, that remains the name of the church today.

The grand nave. Although the walls survived, the roof was destroyed during the Second World War, so this replacement dates from the 1950s and 1960s.

The altar. One thing that I did like is that they had blocked off access to the rear of the nave by putting seating there, which pushed people around the aisles of the church. This gave the advantage to those who wanted to go and sit in the nave to have a slightly quieter environment, rather than sit by every man and his goat traipsing down the aisle taking photos.

Some of the old stonework. Given the number of collapses the building has suffered, the church probably has rather a lot to choose from.

The church is known for the rooster which tops its tower and the current one is the seventh, with the first having been installed in 1491. This is the sixth rooster, which was in position between 1690 and 1941.

This is the tombstone of Andreas Knopke, who was the first preacher at the church who supported the reformation. Knopke lived from 1468 until 1539 and the tombstone looks a bit black as it was damaged by fire in 1721.

This is the Chapel for the Victims of Repression, with the sculpture, and I quote, “symbolising the unbroken spirit of man tending upwards while the horizontal images represent the road of suffering covered by people”.

Personally, I thought that this art display got in the way of seeing the building’s architecture and it added little of interest to me, although I’m sure that others thought it was intriguing.

I do wonder whether those plugs really need to be there on the left-hand side…. It’s the memorial to Franz Ringenberg (1584-1611) and the relief on the left represents justice and the relief on the right represents finance.

A wooden reconstruction of the cathedral’s spire.

The Roland statue, this one dates from 1894 and is made from sandstone. It’s a sign of the city’s independence and there’s a particularly impressive older Roland statue in Bremen. This statue was mounted in the Town Hall Square in 1896 and it remained there until the middle of the twentieth century, by which time it had become quite worn by the elements.

There was a charge of €3 for entry to the church and a charge of €9 for going to the top of the tower in a lift. I didn’t feel need to spend that much money to look at Riga in the rain, so I just looked around the church. It’s also a ridiculous sum on the grounds that €2.50 is the hourly minimum wage in Latvia, so a local would need to work for over three hours to pay to go to the top of the tower. For a church based on Lutheran principles, it’s perhaps not entirely ideal, especially when considering that there are no doubt many Latvians who would like to take their children to the top of the tower. I think I’m becoming ever more socialist…..