PHOTO: Town Hall Square in Riga, Latvia

Town Hall Square with House of the Blackheads in Riga, Latvia. Saint Peter's Church soars in the background.

Town Hall Square in Riga, Latvia. The historic House of Blackheads Guild Hall, originally built in 1334 to host events of the Brotherhood of the Blackheads, dominates the square. Members of the brotherhood were unmarried merchants and craftsmen, mostly of German descent, who were engaged in trade for the powerful Hanseatic League. The guild house was almost entirely destroyed during World War Two, but an epithet carved over the entrance, “If I am destined to ruination, I will be rebuilt by you!” seems to have been prophetic. The structure was rebuilt in 1999 with extreme attention to architectural accuracy. In years past the guild hall was open for tours, however it is currently closed, as it is serving as the temporary residence for the President of Latvia while Riga Castle is being renovated.

Riga’s Town Hall Square is also home to the rebuilt Town Hall (Ratslaukums), Riga Technical University, and a Tourist Information office. A statue of St. Roland, the patron saint of the town since 1897, stands in the center of the square. The pretty spire of Saint Peter’s Church seen in the background is actually located in an adjacent square.

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