Town Hall

Рижская Городская РатушаTown Hall in Riga

The Town Hall in Riga is one of the sights of Riga. Looking at the Riga City Hall, there is a feeling that she always stood in this place, but this is not so. The first building of the Town Hall took its place where the laboratory buildings of the technical colleges stand now. They were erected in the 60s of the 20th century. When in the 1990’s they started talking about the restoration of the Town Hall, it was necessary to build it on a new, and not in its historical place.

According to historical chronicles, the first building of the Town Hall was at the crossroads of two streets: Tirgonyu (Torgovaya) and Shkunyu (Sarayna). Townspeople were able to win the power to have a city government body after 1225. In those years, those who were dissatisfied with the authority of Bishop Albert von Buxgevden rebelled. A year later, in 1226, Riga managed to defend the city’s rights and the opportunity to pursue an independent policy. This circumstance entailed the creation of a city council, as well as the construction of a building for it. The constructed City Hall was located at the so-called large gates, which were the main entrance to Riga.

The first building of the Riga City Hall

It is believed that the first building of the Town Hall was destroyed as a result of the battle unleashed by the Order, when the Order troops let Riga out of the popular uprising in 1297. Although in 1330 the Order managed to win back Riga. A new building, the mention of which is found in written sources in 1334, was built in place of the old one on the Riga market square.

The second building of the Riga City Hall

It is assumed that the second building of the Riga City Hall was built in the Gothic style, the roof was high gable. In all there were 6 rooms. The rooms on the first floor were for sale. Every year, on the eve of the national holiday – St. Michael’s Day, when mass festivities took place, the herald from the balcony of the Town Hall read out new decrees and decrees, including changes in the field of tax collections, as well as monopolies for the production of some goods (for example, beer). Speeches of heralds were later called burgher speeches. After the year 175, a musician was invited to the balcony of the Town Hall, who “sounded” the melody with each hour’s offensive.

The second building of the Town Hall was severely damaged during the siege of the city by the troops of Peter I in 1709-1710. The decision to demolish the building was taken only in the middle of the 18th century. At the same time, the design and construction of a new building, the third one, began, its construction continued for 15 years due to the fact that the government allocated funds for the construction of the new Town Hall periodically.

The third building of the Riga City Hall

The third building of the Town Hall was built in the style of early classicism, the tower had baroque forms, the building itself framed the columned portico of the Tuscan order. In 1791 the attic part was built.

Reconstruction of the City Hall building began in 1848, supervised by the young architect I.D. Felsko. Over the improvement of the existing building, the architect Felsko worked for 2 years, the third floor was built on.

In 1877 as a result of municipal government reforms, the Riga City Council (city council) was abolished. The main city library of Riga is located in the Town Hall building. In addition to it, there was a bank and a city orphaned court. So it was until the Second World War. In the summer of 1941, the building of the former Town Hall was hit by a heavy fire, at the same time there was a big fire in which many buildings, including the Town Hall, were burnt.

The ruins of the Town Hall did not touch for several years. Only after 1954, according to the decision of the Riga City Executive Committee, they were dismantled. And in place of the Town Hall in the middle of the 50s of the 20th century, new buildings of the Riga University began to be built. Some of the fragments of the Town Hall were miraculously preserved to this day: sculptural fragments of the pediment, the sculpture of Themis.

Design a new building of the Town Hall began in the late 1990’s. The project was realized only by 2000. The new Town Hall building was opened in November 2003. The new building is a copy of the historic building, which, however, is estimated in different ways by architects and designers. Today the Riga City Council is located in this building.


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