The town hall square in Riga, Latvia is near our rented apartment so we were pretty much around this area. The square dates back 1334.
Now before I move on with describing the square, let me just insert the film “The Revenant” – you know, about the frontierman mauled by a bear? Well, as I was watching that I remembered how young America is compared to Europe. While Latvia already had a bustling town hall square in the 1300’s, America was still but a huge landscape.
The town hall square was one of the focuses of power alongside Dome Cathedral and Riga Castle – the latter we skipped visiting.
Just imagine Riga’s town hall square in the old days: a marketplace, a festival location and where executions were also carried out.
The Blackheads was a guild. It kinda makes me think of a medieval merchant’s guild in Sigtuna that I am writing about called Friserbröder. Well, trade used to be a risky business, so of course merchants had to have an association whose aim was to protect and help each member. The blackheads was a guild of unmarried merchants. They lived in the House of Blackheads right at the town hall square. The guild was called Blackheads because of their patron, St Maurice, who was depicted as a moor. No wonder there were many pictures or portraits of dark-skinned men in churches and other buildings in Riga.
Since the Blackheads were bachelors, they had rowdy parties in that house in the old days – until World War 2 disbanded the guild. We didn’t go inside since it was closed when we were there.
Marcus, Wawi and I crossed the bridge to get to the national library. Mima and Tuwa stayed at the steps of the Museum of Occupation and Latvia, where there was also an interesting shop with Latvian products.
Wawi and Marcus criticized the architecture of the museum. It looked out of place at the square’s edge. It was the only Soviet-era building among the old neo-classical buildings of the town hall square.
Of all the buildings in the town hall square, we managed to get in the Mentzendorff house, which showed the lifestyle of wealthy Rigans and St Peter’s Church (which I will blog about later). The church provides a fantastic view across the city – I have pictures, I will show later!
We also went in St John’s Church. Quite funny that I thought it was St Peter’s Church, so I was actually reading aloud the wrong information to my family. Aunt complained that I was a useless guide. Well, if I were paid to be a guide – then I would of course prepare! 🙂
At lunch, we ate at a fancy restaurant inspired by St Peter and his rooster. I think the roosters displayed on the windows attracted my cousin and she really nagged about eating there. It turned out to be a very good choice. Good service and good food. I also tried the Latvian Kvass, a barley malt drink.
Marcus/Wawi/Mima – what is the name of the restaurant? I don’t remember!
Anyway, I haven’t been blogging for almost a fortnight due to work and a charity project. But now that I am back to my normal routine – then I will fill up the blog every night. Ok? Whoever you are, and however few you are 🙂 I am working hard and free to entertain you with my cultural travel blog. Thanks for reading!
PS – My aunt says the name of the restaurant is Peter Gailis. Gailis means rooster.
Video: Here is a link to my youtube channel featuring sounds from Riga, among them, the beautiful kokle string instrument.