The Dome Cathedral - The main attraction of Riga, the capital of Latvia, the cathedral and the symbol of the city. In terms of size, the Dome Cathedral ranks first among the medieval temples of the Baltic states. The name of the cathedral is associated with the Latin expression Domus Dei, which means “House of God”. This architectural dominant is among the 1000 best attractions in the world according to our site.
The cathedral is famous for its incredible sounding organ with a height of 25 meters and with more than 6000 pipes. At one time, this body was the largest in the world. His pipes were made of several species of wood, and music in honor of the discovery of the organ was written by F. Liszt himself.
This magnificent tool today attracts visitors to Riga. Tourists and residents can enjoy organ music in the concert hall of the cathedral and attend regular worship services. The attraction is located in the very center of Old Riga and adjoins the Dome Square, from which narrow streets depart.
The cathedral complex also has a monastery, which today houses an interesting museum. The history of the cathedral dates back to the 13th century, but the building got its present appearance at the end of the 19th century. Once the Riga Cathedral was the main temple of Livonia.
The first stone in the structure was laid by Bishop Albert on St. Jacob's Day (July 25, 1211). Enormous funds were spent on the construction of the church. The original building was a mixture of Romanesque and "northern" Gothic. Today, in the cathedral, one can also see elements of baroque, gothic, and modern (art nouveau).
The cathedral building has been rebuilt more than once. So, for example, in 1547, the interiors along with the Gothic spire burned down during a fire. Soon a new tower with a wooden spire was built. In the second half of the 18th century, the tower was rebuilt again and a cockerel was erected on a new baroque spire.
It is simply impossible to be in Riga and not visit the Dome Cathedral. This magnificent building in the city center is a museum, a concert hall, a shrine, and an architectural masterpiece. The cathedral is open for public visits from 9-10 am all year round.
Photo and description
Riga Dome Cathedral is a symbol of Riga and one of the main attractions of the city. The date of foundation of the cathedral is July 25, 1211 - this is the day of St. Jacob. The founder of the Dome Cathedral was Riga Bishop Albrecht von Buksgevden. The site chosen by the bishop for the construction of the temple was far beyond the compound. Albert decided to build a cathedral on the site of a fishing village burned a year earlier, during a raid by strangers.
At the ceremony of consecrating the site for the construction of a new temple, all the higher clergy gathered. The Cathedral of St. Mary, namely in her honor, the bishop decided to name the church under construction, was supposed to amaze everyone with luxury and magnificence. It was to her that the lands conquered by Albert, including Riga itself, were dedicated.
All the famous Riga builders took part in the construction of the temple, the temple was distinguished by its beauty and size, until then there were no such structures in the city. High ceilings were supported by massive columns, arches and window niches had a semicircular shape. And the thick walls of the temple were able to protect the building during any siege.
Famous foreign masters invited from Holland and Germany led the construction of the cathedral. The bishop did not spare money for his brainchild, but he did not manage to live up to the moment when the construction of the cathedral was completed. His ashes were laid to rest in an unfinished temple, and the cathedral had to go through many more changes.
Next to the Dome Cathedral itself, a monastery was soon erected for dignitaries of the bishop. All buildings are a single ensemble, framed by a gallery facing the courtyard. Initially, during the heyday of the monastery, the gallery was used for ritual events. Later, the Dome Chapter was built, which served for the meetings of church dignitaries.
Subsequently, the church was rebuilt several times and underwent changes. Gradually, the Romanesque style was diluted with other architectural trends. Over the years of its existence, the Dome Cathedral has been repeatedly destroyed and attacked. During the years of the Reformation (1524), the cathedral was defeated, almost nothing remained of the previously rich interior decoration.
The Dome Cathedral was especially badly damaged during the fire of 1547, which almost completely destroyed what was saved after the Reformation. The church suffered not only from fire, but also from water. So, the Dome Cathedral has suffered more than once from the spring waters of the Daugava; there were times when the level of water that flooded the temple reached human growth. The spire of the tower of the Dome Cathedral acquired its present form only in 1776, it was reconstructed four times, as it was also destroyed four times by lightning strikes.
Throughout the 17-18 centuries, the burial of the deceased located under the temple floor was ennobled by epitaphs. And in the 19th century, the temple was enriched with stained glass windows, which reflected significant moments in the life of the cathedral. At the end of the 19th century, a new organ was established, instead of the old one, which operated from the end of the 16th century. The organ, which is still striking in its sound, is a real attraction of the Dome Cathedral. Its height is 25 meters. During its construction, this body was the largest in the world.
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 disappeared and again new settlements arose. 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.
Opening hours of the Dome Cathedral in Riga in 2019
- From May 1 to September 30
- Monday, Tuesday and Saturday - from 9:00 to 18:00
- Wednesday and Friday - from 09:00 to 17:00
- Thursday from 9:00 to 17:30
- Sunday from 14:00 to 17:00
- From October 1 to April 30
- Daily, except Sunday, from 10:00 to 17:00
- Sunday from 14:00 to 17:00
- Attention! Organ concerts and classical music are held at 12:00 and 19:00 in the Dome Cathedral. At this time, the entrance to the cathedral is from 15 euros (the cost of tickets for concerts). The schedule can be found on the official website
- Services are held from Monday to Saturday at 8:00, on Sundays at 12:00
From the history
The erection of the temple began on the initiative of the founder of Riga, Bishop Albert Buxkhvenden. At that time, the magnificent building of St. Peter's Church was already built in Riga, built at the expense of the population, but the main priest of the city wanted the new church to be the highest, beautiful and luxurious and personify the strength and power of the church.
The cathedral in honor of St. Mary was founded in 1211 on the site of the burned fishing village of the Livs. The church building was erected by masons and carpenters throughout the city under the guidance of experienced Dutch and German craftsmen, and the main priest carefully checked the completion of all construction work.
In height, the new church surpassed St. Peter's Church, and its walls reached two meters in thickness. The arches of the window openings were made in the form of semicircles, and the arches rested on tall columns.
But despite all the efforts of Bishop Albert, he was not destined to see the temple - in 1229 he died and, according to the annals, was buried in the unfinished church "under the third stone, under the lamp." The construction of the church building was completed only a quarter century after the death of the bishop.
Throughout its history, the temple was rebuilt several times and therefore has absorbed many architectural styles - Romanesque and Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque.
The temple was seriously damaged during the years of the Reformation, when it was defeated and lost most of its decoration, and in addition, lightning hit it four times and it burned. The church acquired a modern look in 1776.
Organ of the Dome Cathedral
The first organ was built by the master Jacob Raab in 1594-1603. The organ that can be heard now is unique. It was installed in 1883-1884 by German craftsmen from the city of Ludwigsburg and was the largest organ in the world, the sounds of which admired all of Europe.
- Its height is 25 meters, that is, equal to the height of a nine-story building, and its width is 11 meters
- The design includes 6718 pipes with a length of 1 centimeter - up to 10 meters, which are combined in 124 voices - register. About half of the pipes are made of an alloy of tin and lead, the second half is made of wood - pears, apple and maple, oak and pine
- The air is supplied from furs, the size of the largest is 2.5 by 6 meters.
Interesting facts and legends about the Dome Cathedral in Riga
- The temple building is the most settled building in Riga. Previously, to enter the temple, it was necessary to climb the stairs, however, for 800 years due to fires and the construction of embankments that strengthen the bank of the Daugava, the ground level around the church rose. As a result, the Dome Cathedral itself seemed to plunge into the ground and now, to get into the church, you have to go down 16 steps.
- There is a legend according to which, in the dungeons of the temple there are pantries in which jewels and expensive paintings, swords and muskets studded with diamonds, chests with jewelry, gold and silver coins are preserved, and the plans for these dungeons along with the keys are in the Vatican. Indirectly, the legend is confirmed by the fact that the grave of the founder of Riga, Bishop Albert, buried "under the third stone, under the lamp" has not yet been found.
- Riga’s Dome Cathedral is dedicated to two paintings by Nicholas Roerich - “Riga. Interior of the Cathedral "and" Cathedral ", written in 1903
- The organ can convey not only the sounds of musical works, but also any musical instrument, as well as the sound of sea waves, wind and even a human voice.
A monastery was built near the temple with a courtyard and an open gallery with cross vaults - the so-called "Cross Process", along which the monks walked, recalling the suffering and death of Christ. A 118-meter-long gallery connected the temple with the nearby monastery premises - the residence of the Dome chapel. In the Cross Gallery you can see a plaster copy of the monument to Peter the Great, as well as several exhibits from the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation - guns and tombstones, fragments of stone decor and metal forging of various lost Riga buildings. It also houses a cockerel, which was on the spire of the church until 1980, when during restoration work it was replaced with a new one.
In the gloomy assembly hall of the Dome Chapter, the most important church affairs were discussed.
Currently, the Dome Cathedral has a parish, the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, as well as a branch of the Philharmonic Society - a concert hall.
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The Dome Cathedral is one of the main attractions of the city. It is the central cathedral of Riga and its symbol. This building is in first place in size among all the cathedrals of the Baltic, built during the Middle Ages. The name of the Dome Cathedral comes from the Latin phrase "Domus Dei", which translates as "House of God." And the main attraction of the cathedral itself is a large ancient organ, whose height is 25 meters, and the number of pipes is more than 6 thousand.
The construction of the cathedral began in 1211, led by Bishop Albert. In 1215, the old Dome Cathedral, which was at that time in the center of Riga, burned down, and from that moment the pace of construction of the new cathedral increased significantly. At the same time, new construction technologies appeared - from bricks, and not from natural stone, which now trimmed only the corners of buildings. The organ pipes were constructed from wood of various species. And at the grand opening he sounded music written by the great composer Liszt.
What events did not happen to the cathedral during its existence - wars, fires, and then new and new restorations. One of the last large-scale reconstructions was made in the 1980s, during which many utilities were replaced, the interior was renovated inside, and the spire lining made of copper was outside. The railings of the galleries were also restored. And for the convenience and safety of visitors, the cathedral has a modern ventilation system and fire alarm.
Currently, the cathedral is the residence of the Archbishop of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church, and in essence serves as the main symbol of the spiritual life of the country. In this place, parishioners hold Latvian ecumenical services. And for tourists there are musical concerts and excursions. True lovers of historical values and culture of different centuries can order the services of a guide in the cathedral by prior arrangement. The cathedral is open to visitors from May to September on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays from 9:00 to 18:00, on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:00 to 17:00, on Thursdays from 9:00 to 17:30, and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Winter working hours from October to April: every day from 10:00 to 17:00, on Sunday from 14:00 to 17:00.
Concerts in Riga Dome Cathedral
This attraction has long been used as the main venue for various cultural and musical events, including world-class ones. Both at regular services and at frequent concerts, local residents and guests of Riga can hear music from different centuries.
If you decide to attend a music concert in the Dome Cathedral, it will remain in your memory for a long time, because here everyone can choose a program that suits their taste, performed by the greatest masters of their work - choirs and soloists, local organists and guests from other countries. It is a great honor for any musician to play the Riga organ, because he is one of the oldest musical instruments not only in Latvia, but throughout Europe, and the sounds that the masters extract from it are unique and unforgettable.
Schedule of concerts in Riga Dome Cathedral in 2019
Musical concerts take place in the cathedral all year round, from May to September on Fridays and Wednesdays at 19:00, and from October to April on Fridays at 19:00. In addition, additional concerts are constantly held. The current concert schedule (including in Russian) can be found on the cathedral website. A concert ticket can only be purchased at the box office of the Dome Cathedral.
Parish of the cathedral
The parishioners of the cathedral are proud that their parish is located in such a historic place. The Dome Cathedral is one of the most beautiful and largest cathedrals in the country. Divine services are held in Latvian every day at 8 a.m., and on Sundays at 12 p.m. Every first Sunday at 5 p.m., a special service is held especially for families with children. The current schedule of services can always be found on the official website of the cathedral. The chapel for prayers is open to all comers during the work of the cathedral, entrance to it is free.
How to get there
The Dome Cathedral is located in the very center of Riga, so it will not be difficult to get to it. From public transport, the nearest stop to the cathedral is called Grēcinieku iela, and trams of routes 1, 2, 5, 10 and buses number 9, 22, 27, 322 go to it. You can also use taxi services, for example, Smile Taxi, RedCab or Baltic Taxi.
Dome Cathedral on google-panorama outside
Dome Cathedral on google-panorama from the inside