Riga Dome Cathedral
Riga Dome Cathedral is a symbol and one of the main attractions of the city of Riga. Dome Cathedral is the largest medieval church in the Baltic countries. First of all, the Dome Cathedral is identified with religion and faith. The Dome Cathedral, not just a building – this architectural project is listed in the World Heritage Register, for more than a hundred years now it has been glorifying the name of its architect E.F. Walker. The name of the cathedral comes from Latin expressions – “Domus Dei” (“House of God”). Currently – the main church building of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia. Along with St. Peter’s Church and St. Ecob’s Cathedral, it is the high-rise dominant of Old Riga and the forming urban element of the old city (in particular, the key building of Dome Square).
Its builder was Bishop of Riga Albert, founder of the Order of the “Brothers of Christ of Chivalry”, better known by the name of the Swordsmen. With their help, he conquered the Liv tribes and settled in Livonia. In 1210, a fishing village near the episcopal compound burned down, and Albert took the opportunity to seize this piece of land. In 1211, the first stone was laid in the foundation of the cathedral and the land allotted for construction was consecrated. The temple spent huge funds collected in the form of taxes from the conquered Baltic lands. Episcopal Cathedral was to surpass the church of St. Petra, which then began to build artisans and merchants of Riga. Albert invited architects from Germany and set before them the task of building a temple in a new, flourishing Gothic style. The grand vaults supported by columns, stained glass windows, the abundance of sculpture, the plan in the form of a cross – all these features of Gothic architecture were completely not characteristic of local architecture, therefore the magnificent building of the cathedral towered above the city as a symbol of the triumph of the Catholic Church.
A monastery was built near the Dome Cathedral for the Dome Chapter. At the end of the 16th century, an organ was installed in the cathedral. The cathedral acquired its final form only in the 18th century, after several reconstructions. For example, the shape of the tower, which was struck by lightning four times, during restoration each time changed depending on the tastes of the era. The organ hall in the Dome Cathedral, one of the most popular places for tourists. The body, which has incredible acoustic power, has four sets of hand keys. It was reconstructed three times. The works for the great organ were written by many prominent composers and gave their concerts right in the cathedral. At the time of its construction in the world there was no body that would exceed this in size.
Over the years, the cultural layer around the cathedral has grown significantly, since the cathedral has stood indestructibly all these years, and around it the settlements have disappeared and again new settlements have appeared. Now, in order to get inside the church you need to go down the stairs, and before you had to go up, but time does not stand still. The Dome Church itself was restored in 1959 – 1962, the interior was recreated in it exactly as it was more than four hundred years ago, and the organ still sounds under its arches. Today in the monastery buildings is the Museum of the History of Riga and the Museum of Navigation.