The square and the House of Blackheads were truly amazing – kind of like the rest of Old Town Riga. The color of the House of Blackheads is simply amazing. The contrast in colors makes it so beautiful. The blues are really blue.
Opposite the stone bridge there is an important square in Old Riga – the Town Square or Ratslaukums. In the Middle Ages it also served as an open-air market. During WWII the square was completely destroyed. However, today the Town Hall has been completely restored, just like the House of Blackheads and Schwabe’s House, and the statue of Roland. Here one can also see the Soviet Era building from the 1970’s that house the Occupation Museum.
That’s a lot for just one square. It’s also is amazing. Being an American, I’m often amazed at the deep history of Europe and how old it truly is compared to America. It’s humorous to hear about churches in the US that are so proud of their “long” history of 150 years or 200 years. The city of Riga was founded in 1201. 1201! I’ll let that sink in for a second.
The House of Blackheads built in the 14th century belonged to the Guild of Unmarried Merchants. At the time it was the richest and most prestigious venue in the whole city. It was severely damaged and pillaged during WWII, but was rebuilt again in 1999 as an exact copy of the original building with a magnificent Dutch Renaissance facade and amazing ceiling paintings inside.
Due to Chancery of the President of Latvia moving to the premise of the House of Blackheads, it will be closed to visitors until Dec. 2015.
So much to say here. First, the name House of Blackheads caught my attention. I’m not sure of the history behind the name, but I’m sure you can look it up if you are that interested.
Second, there’s got to be a joke somewhere about the Guild of Unmarried Merchants and how rich they were. It’s almost itching to come out. They might as well post a whole wall of inappropriate jokes about this.
And about the President of Latvia having to move to the House of Blackheads – gee, that sucks…Not! When I was walking around the city on this day, there were a ton of Secret Service-looking guys and military personnel around the House of Blackheads, getting into cars, and looking at people. I dare not take a picture of them – I didn’t want have my camera taken or something like that.
I’m sure the inside of the building is gorgeous.
So lastly, who is this Roland character? I’m happy to oblige. As always, you can find great information on Wikipedia:
A Roland statue is a statue of a knight with a drawn sword, signifying the town privileges of a medieval city. Statues of the mythological Roland, who enjoyed the status as a popular hero, were erected in cities during the Middle Ages as an emblem of the freedom and city rights of a town.
The first Roland statues began to appear in the 12th century, placed outside churches. During the 14th and 15th centuries, Roland statues became more common. Especially during the reign of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, such statues became more common, a fact that may be explained by the emperor’s ambition to portray himself as the heir to Charlemagne‘s reign. The earliest Roland statues were made of wood, while later examples are more often made of stone.