Swedish gate in Riga
The Swedish gates are a cultural monument, an architectural complex located in several houses on Tornia Street in Riga, Latvia.
In 1621, Riga was under the rule of Sweden. The Swedish occupation lasted until 1711. Naturally, the Swedish rule left a significant mark in Riga’s history. At this time, new buildings of architecture appeared in the city: the Yakovlevsky barracks or the barracks of Jekaba and the Swedish Gate, which are now among the most popular sights of Riga.
Peter I ordered the destruction of the barracks of Jekaba. Later, new ones were built in their place. The Swedish gate is the only one of all the city gates, which have survived to our days almost unchanged.
The legend tells that the Swedish gates were erected at the end of the XVII century. One enterprising and enterprising Riga merchant decided to cut through the gates in his house No. 11 on Tornia Street. In this way, he wanted to escape from the payment of duties on goods, which were officially imported through the Sand City gates. Since the gates were located in his house, the merchant decided to charge a fare through them.
Nevertheless, there is a more realistic version of the formation of the Swedish gate. Most likely, the city authorities decided to equip a closed passage to the buildings that were on the street Tornia. Therefore, a new gate was cut through.
The Swedish gates became so called for two reasons: first of all, their appearance coincided with the occupation of Riga by the Swedes, and the second reason is that most often Swedish soldiers used this gate. The soldiers quartered in Yakovlevsky barracks, which were located near the gate. Therefore, the Swedish gates represent a kind of symbol of the reign of the Swedes. At night the Swedish gates were locked to the most powerful bolts, and the watchmen were closely watched so that no living soul could penetrate them.
There is a tradition in which the terrible plague is in full swing. At this time the city was “in quarantine”. One young girl tried to penetrate the Swedish Gate to see her lover. But the guards managed to catch it. The girl was treated very cruelly. She was walled alive. Since then, at night, from the side of the wall, terrible weeping and groans of the unfortunate have been heard.
But not only this unhappy girl became a hostage to the Swedish gate. According to another legend, two lovers were walled in the wall next to the gate: a Latvian girl and a Swedish officer. Their love was originally doomed. After all, according to the laws of Sweden, officers could only marry Swedish girls. Lovers ignored the rules, for which they paid with their own lives.
Nowadays this ancient legend allows lovers to check the sincerity of their feelings. You have to go through the Swedish gates with your soul mate. And if their feelings are as strong as the feelings of unhappy lovers, then exactly at midnight the couple will hear the cherished “I love you!”, Coming from the wall.
And they say that for some time the city hangman lived in an apartment located above the Swedish gates. He had a habit of “warning” Riga about the impending execution. The night before, he always put a red rose on the window, and all the inhabitants knew about the impending bloody act.
In 1926, the Society of Architects of Latvia rented a house with the Swedish gates from the city authorities, which was rebuilt in accordance with its new appointment. The building acquired a baroque appearance, completely coinciding with the time of its appearance. The interior of the house (ovens from the 17th-18th century tiles, classic and baroque plafonds, etc.) was arranged by the Riga architect and artist AI Trofimov.
Currently, the House of Architects’ ensemble includes houses No. 11, No. 13 and No. 15 at the Swedish Gate. In addition to the Latvian Union of Architects, there is a library in which you can freely enter and enrich yourself with knowledge about the history and culture of the country.