St. Jacob’s Cathedral

St. Jacob’s Cathedral in Riga

Собор Святого Иакова в Риге

St. Jacob’s Cathedral in Riga is the main Catholic church in Latvia, the fourth largest church in Riga. Cathedral. St. Jacob is a monument of brick Gothic. The first mention of the church, which was in place of the current cathedral, dates back to 1225. This date, engraved on the central western facade of the church, is considered a conjectural year of the construction of the Church of St. James.

During the reformation in 1552, parishioners risked conducting the first in the history of Riga divine service in the Lutheran models in this church. In 1524, during the peak of anti-Catholic unrest, the St. Jacob’s Church, like most of the Catholic churches in the city, was defeated, resulting in the almost complete destruction of the interior.

During the siege of the city by the Russian troops of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, several shells enter the St. James Church. Two of them in memory of the siege of Riga were walled in the walls of the central facade, and two more – in the altar.

Throughout its history, the church has several times changed its religion and partially rebuilt. In 1756, a pointed spire in the form of an octahedron was attached to the main church building. In 1782 a new central portal was built. Since 1923 the Church of St. James again belongs to the Catholic faith.

The height of the church tower, including the spire, is 80 meters. In interior interiors one can see a floral ornament decorating the capitals on church choirs. This type of ornament is rare for the church canon of Gothic sculptural decoration. Initially, the church was a hall type, today it is a three-nave structure, which is 27 to 50 meters in plan. In general, the interior of the church is simple and laconic, which, however, corresponds to the concept of the design of Catholic sacral buildings. In 1736, on the spire of the church tower was placed a traditional weather vane in the form of a cock, which we can see today.

In 1680 in the church, which at that time was the main royal Lutheran church, an altar was created. It is assumed that he is the earliest altar in Latvia, executed in the baroque style. Who is the creator of this altar is unknown. In 1902, it was decided to eliminate the altar, which had already fallen into disrepair. For the construction of the new, two masters were invited: the woodcarver Jacob Schrad and the sculptor Christophe Mittelhausen. Despite the fact that the old altar was dismantled, something of it survived, namely the adorned carved figure of the angels, which are kept in the museum of the history of Riga and navigation. In 1924, a new altar appeared, which was already the third in a row.

One of the interesting elements of the interior of the church of St. James is the department. It is made in the Empire style, it was made by the master August Gotthelf Heibel in 1810. The chair is made of red woods, its area contains intarsia with rich vegetal ornamentation and exquisite arabesques. In general, the peculiarity of the temple is a mixture of architectural styles in the interior of the church, whereas outside it is relatively homogeneous.

In 1761, the organ master Henry Andrew Koncius began to create an organ for the church. To this day this organ has not survived. The new one was made in 1913, the master of the modern organ was the master E. Martin. The windows of St. Jacob’s Cathedral are covered with stained-glass windows, the time of their creation dates back to the last century. So three bright stained-glass windows, which decorate the windows of the eastern wall of the choir, were made in 1902 in Art Nouveau style.

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