St. Peter's Church in Riga

St. Peter’s Church

St. Peter’s Church

St. Peter's Church in RigaSt. Peter’s Church in Riga is a unique symbol and one of the main attractions of the city of Riga (Latvia). This outstanding piece of architecture was first mentioned in 1209. The church is known for its unusual spire, whose height is 64.5 meters with a total height of the church tower of 123.5 meters.

St. Peter’s Church was erected as a folk church. He, contrary to the Dome Cathedral, which was built by the Riga authorities, was erected on the collected funds from artisans, merchants, and even ordinary peasants. At the same time, St. Peter’s Church was the main cult building of a privileged segment of the population in feudal Riga. One of the oldest schools of the city worked at the temple.

The temple was built in the Gothic style. Initially, the room was not very large. It was planned to build an ordinary church. But at the beginning of the 15th century a new altar part of the building and a bell tower in the Gothic style were erected. After, in the 17th century, decorated baroque portals were erected, and a spire appeared at the church, which we can observe today.

The spire of St. Peter’s Church is the most recognizable part of it and an inseparable component of the panorama of the city of Riga.

In the 13th century, the temple tower may have been a stand-alone building. For the first time, as part of the church, the tower was built at the end of the 15th century. It was then that an octagonal spire of wood was erected, which stood for almost two hundred years. In the middle of the XVII century, the aged spire collapsed. One of the houses was damaged, and eight people were killed. The spire was restored the following year, but after 10 years it burned down. In 1690, the spire was rebuilt. It is interesting that for a long time this spire was the highest wooden spire in Europe, whose height is 64.5 meters with a total height of the church tower of 123.5 meters.

In 1721 lightning hit the tower of St. Peter’s Church. There was a fire. The Russian emperor Peter I, who was in Riga at that time, took part in its suppression. Unfortunately, the fire could not be put out. The spire almost completely burned out and collapsed. Fortunately, the burning spire did not fall upon the city, but “took shape in itself.” This did not cause unnecessary damage. According to legend, the prayers of Peter I helped. In the same year, Peter I ordered to recreate the spire by his decree. The work was completed only after two dozen years – in 1741. The reconstructed spire lasted exactly two centuries and was destroyed on St. Peter’s Day (according to the Gregorian calendar). The church was badly damaged during the Second World War. For a long time the building was destroyed. And only in 1966 it was restored. The construction of the spire was completed only in 1973. The shapes and sizes of the new spire completely repeated the original. But it was made of metal. In the spire appeared two viewing platforms at a height of 57 and 71 meters. And for the convenience of visitors, an elevator and reinforced concrete stairs were installed.

Today, viewing platforms of St. Peter’s Church are especially popular among tourists and visitors of the city, and the spire itself is depicted in many pictures and souvenirs.

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