Riga Dome Cathedral

Dome Cathedral in Riga.

Riga’s cathedral’s (Doma baznīca in Latvian), often incorrectly called the Dome Cathedral or Dome Church is the largest in Latvia. The name comes from the German word ‘Dom’, meaning cathedral. Thus many people confusingly call it the Cathedral Cathedral.

Located in Cathedral square, it is one of the many sightseeing highlights of Riga’s Old Town. The cathedral has undergone many restorations during it’s existence. It unites Roman, Early Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau features. Inside the church you can see a number of very beautiful stained glass windows which were donated by the Guilds, the town council and individual patrons.

In 1211 Riga’s founder Bishop Albert of Livonia chose a portion of land outside Riga’s walls and laid the foundation stone of the Dome Cathedral. It retained it’s importance as the Livonian bishop’s church until 1561 when the Livonian order collapsed.

At the beginning of the cathedral’s construction it was planned to build 2 towers, but in the end the church got only one. This tower burnt down in 1574 and in 1595 a new 140m high wooden tower was constructed. However, this tower began to rot and, to avoid a catastrophe, it was replaced with stone tower only 90m high in 1776.

Walking past the Dome Cathedral you will notice that the foundations are several meters under the street level. Earth was piled around the church to protect it from flooding when the Daugava burst its banks. Since then, the level of the city has risen, so the cathedral sits lower than the majority of the surrounding buildings.

During the times of the Barricades in 1991, the Riga Cathedral served as a first-aid station. Nowadays Riga Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church as well as a concert hall. In the Dome cathedral you can listen to organ concerts performed on an organ built in 1883, at that time it was the biggest organ in the world. It also holds regular choral concerts and solo performances.



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