St Peter’s Church Tower.
A sightseeing highlight of any visit to Riga, Saint Peter’s Church is the tallest church in Riga and a perfect place to get a fantastic panorama view of the rooftops of the Old Town and the rest of Riga. An elevator takes you from the ground floor to a viewing platform near the top of the 123m spire. The inside of the church is also worth a look. However, this priveledge will set you back a tidy 7€. There are cheaper panorama views around the city it that seems a little overpriced.
St Peter’s spire has made a habit of collapsing, most famously in 1666, when it was toppled by a strong wind, flattening nearby houses, and again in 1791 when the rebuilt tower (for a while the tallest wooden structure in Europe) was struck by lightening. Despite the best efforts of the firefighters, gallantly led by then Tsar Peter the Great and using milk, the church burnt to the ground.
Although St Peter’s (Sveta Petera Baznica in Latvian) was first mentioned way back in 1209, not long after Riga’s official founding date of 1201, the current church tower dates only from 1973, when the post WWII restoration work was completed. The church had been destroyed on St Peter’s Day, 1941, when the front line of the war crossed Riga. For some strange reason the then communist government decided that they would restore the church to it’s former glory, and put an elevator in for good measure.
Since then the tower has stood proudly with a golden rooster perched atop, the seventh rooster in all. We sincerely hope that it stands for a while longer as one of the most popular sights in the old town, and you get a chance to take in the view from the tour on your visit to this beautiful city.
What else to do in Riga…