Latvian Parliament Building, Riga
The scene of many demonstrations in recent years, you will know you are near the parliament when you see the armed guards posted on Jakeba Iela. This is the Latvian parliament: the seat of the country's government, and has been since Latvia gained independence.
Last year, in 2009, about 20 thousand people demonstrated against the government, and some tried to storm the building. Some 18 years earlier the same street had been the scene of a spirited defence of the parliament by the local people, where they built a great barricade to prevent the Soviets entering.
The Parliament building is a big brown building in the north part of Old Town. It has the style of a Florentine Renaissance palace and was constructed 1867. It was built as the Vidzemes Knightly House and has since then been expanded.
The building is home of the Latvian parliament, Saeima. Before it has been used by the Supreme Soviet of Latvia and by the Latvian national parliament between 1919 - 1934.
The building now occupied by the Saeima was constructed in 1863-1867 for the needs of the Vidzeme Knighthood. Both the building and its interior have been designed in the style known as Eclecticism
In 1920 the Constitutional Assembly became the owner of the building. On 17 October 1921 the building was set on fire, and as a result the main Representation Hall, which was used as the Assembly Hall, burnt down. The Hall was restored according to the design of architect E.Laube and adapted to the needs of the Parliament of the Republic of Latvia. Minor changes were also introduced in other representation rooms.
On November 3, 1922 the last meeting of the Constitutional Assembly took place but already on November 7 the first meeting of the Saeima was held in the restored premises. The subsequent Saeimas worked in the building until the parliamentary work was interrupted on May 15, 1934. After the coup made by K.Ulmanis the former Saeima building housed the administrative services of the President of Latvia. In 1940 when the Soviet occupational regime was established, the building was taken over by the Supreme Soviet of the Latvian SSR.
During World War II the SS established its Eastern Region Headquarters, as well as its police department in the building. At that time the interior decoration of the representation rooms was destroyed, and the largest part of books as well as the collection of applied art objects and paintings which had been preserved since the time of the Vidzeme Knighthood and the independence period of the Republic of Latvia were taken away to Germany. Part of the valuable objects of art were lost in the post-war period when the Supreme Council of the Latvian SSR moved into the building again.
In 1990 after the restoration of Latvia’s independence the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia and later the 5th Saeima worked in the building. At present the 8th Saeima is working in it.
The Latvian Parliament building is located on a small pretty street quite near the "3 Brothers". It is quite small and official looking.
I found it ironic that I was freely allowed to photograph the Parliament building, but the Riga police harassed me a bit when I took a picture of my Embassy a few minutes later. No harm done though.
In the Old Town you can also find our parliament building.
But if you are interested in politics then take a look in the Parliament’s home page.