House of the Black Heads was my favorite in Riga

By October 29, 2019Europe, Latvia

I spent five days in Riga, Lavia in late August and as I checked out the Old Town (a World Heritage Site) I was quickly drawn to the House of the Black Heads due to the spectacular facade.

The House of the Blackheads is a building in the old town of Riga, Latvia. The original building was erected during the 1320’s for the Brotherhood of Blackheads. They were a guild for unmarried merchants, shipowners, and foreigners in Riga. This was a tight knit organization that helped each other out. As they grew in statue as a merchant they were considered to join the Great Guild once they married. Major works to the building were done in the early 17th century, adding most of the ornamentation.

Sadly, such a great building was bombed to a ruin by the Germans on June 28, 1941. I was told all that was left was the back wall. The Soviets ended up demolishing the remainder in 1948. Luckily, the basement area was fine and all the Soviets did was dump all the ruble into it and smooth it over. Finally, the basement was cleared out and the building was rebuilt between 1996 and 1999, after the Soviet Union collapsed and Latvia gained independence.

Inside they have a museum that allows you to walk through the original basement and they laid out the information of the Brotherhood of Blackheads in a very informative and easy to follow manner. I loved reading everything and seeing the building because being a guild, it was different then the usual castles and churches I see in old towns.

Upstairs they had the restored ballrooms and dining rooms that were over the top beautiful. In fact, when Riga Castle (an actual castle and also the presidential residence) was being renovated the President worked out of the second floor of the House of the Black Heads in these rooms.

One Comment

  • Jim says:

    Its amazing what the war did to cities… unlike WWI, which had very little overhead bombing and was fought in fields, WWII was a city war.. they did an aaesome job restoring it.

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