Powder Tower

The Powder Tower in Riga

Пороховая башня

The Powder Tower is the only fragment of the defense system of Riga that has survived to this day. The first written references to this tower are found in the chronicles of 1330. Especially for the master of the Livonian Order in the fortress wall of Riga, a cannonball was made through which he entered the conquered city. After the conquest of Riga, the members of the Order decided to reconstruct and strengthen the fortification system of the city. So, according to one version, the famous tower appeared. However, there is another theory, which says that the tower was built at the end of the 13th century, that is, before the conquest of Riga by the Order.

According to available archival data, the tower originally had the shape of a horseshoe, and only by the middle of the 14th century it acquired its present, cylindrical shape. The system of fortifications of the city consisted of 28 towers, which at different periods of history were rebuilt and received different names.

In one of the periods, the Sand Tower was rebuilt, it was turned into a six-story building and a so-called pantry was built between the upper floors, intended for catching the enemy’s cores. The master of the Livonian Order was the inspirer of the reconstruction. However, as early as 1621, the tower was destroyed as a result of hostilities during the Swedish-Polish war. However, the fortification system was reconstructed, and the tower returned to life. There is a version that after these military actions it received its present name and became known as Porokhovaya. However, again this is only a theory.

According to the second version, the tower received its name already in peacetime, when it was adapted to the warehouse in which gunpowder was stored. However, this version is not convincing. There are also several opinions regarding the nuclei of the tower, embedded in the wall. One of them says that all these nuclei are the echo of numerous sieges of the city by Russian troops. And the second theory says that these nuclei appeared only after the reconstruction of the 30s of the 20th century. According to this version, the cores were specially embedded in the walls of the tower by restorers.

In the years of the Russian Empire, the tower was unclaimed, and by the middle of the 19th century the question of the liquidation of all fortifications had arisen, since they limited the city and did not give it opportunities for territorial growth. And already in 1856 a plan was adopted for the reconstruction of the city, according to which all the fortifications were to be demolished. However, this time the Powder Tower was pardoned, but it was not found and it was empty for another 30 years.

Since 1892, a new round of history has begun for the tower. Now it belongs to students who made repairs for it in their funds and equipped a beer hall and several dance halls in the tower. The pub is notorious for the fact that it began to sound nationalist ideas. The very name of the tower can be associated with the formation of Nazism, because at different times it was inspired by such ideological inspirers of the movement of brown shirts as ME Shaibner-Richter and Arno Shikedanz. The tower carried out its new function until 1916. Only with the outbreak of World War I did the students have to leave their habitable place.

In the tower a museum of Latvian riflemen opens, and then the Military Museum comes to replace it. In 1938, the Powder Tower survived another restoration and finally acquired a modern look. However, with the formation of the USSR regime in the tower, changes are again taking place, and the Naval School named after Nakhimov opens in it. And in 1957 a museum was opened in the tower again, this time the Museum of the October Revolution. In 1991, the authorities are changing, and the Military Museum again operates in the tower. This museum operates today, its exposition is rich in various exhibits telling about the history of the country.

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