St. John's Church is a Protestant church in Riga. Built in 1297, this old Church was used as the chapel of a Dominican abbey. The church was destroyed several times, so not all the architecture is from the same period. Over 400 years of services in Latvian have been held in this church.
A part of the fortification wall which was 11 metres high and 2.5 metres thick which once surrounded the city, can be seen in St. Johns Courtyard.
This church is famous for the two monks who were bricked into the southern wall. They spent all their life there, being fed from a trough that ran through a window from the outside.
On the same street as St. John's and opposite St. Peter's, is one more church: St. George's. Only this one is a little different, and unless you look out for its arched windows and high roof, you'd think it was just another building on this cluttered street. Older than its neighbours, in truth it is just another building now. During the reformation it was transformed into a warehouse.
Today it hosts the Museum of Applied arts, wherein you can see some of the remaining fragments of the original church.
The church was built in the Dominican monastery after 1234; it was used like a chapel. Later, church was used as a furniture workshop and weapon arsenal.
In the 15th century two monks were immured here in their own free will, only a small window were left for them - this place have a sign in church, but, pity, haven’t seen it. The church is really worth visiting of history and beauty - interior is very beautiful.
TThis place in a hotel complex now, but you can just go inside the small yards to see how nice narrow streets and cozy houses are in this place. It seems like a medieval buildings complex still left in Riga old town.
You can go to this site through Skarnu street near the St. John's church. Enter the small gates and when enjoy corridors of streets ;)
On Livu square are three old guild houses that tell their own tale. The Small Guild was formed in the 14th century as the Guild of St. John, protecting the local craftsmen. The current building dates from the 19th century and is built in the British Gothic style. The Great Guild (St. Mary) dates from the same time, and today is home to the Latvian Philharmonic Orchestra.
Perhaps most interesting of the Guild Houses is not actually a guild house at all. It's commonly known as the Cat House, because of the wrought iron cats that decorate it, with the most prominent of all sitting on the conical roof. The original owner of this building decorated it with cats in order to show his superiority to the neighbouring to guild houses, as the Great Guild had refused him entry.
Tucked around the back of St. John's cathedral is a little slice of medieval in the heart of Riga's old town. A fragment of Riga's original fortifications remain, in a pleasant courtyard separating the Skunu and Kaleju streets.
When I was there the whole place was filled up with snow, and icicles hung precariously from the roof tops, as you can see in the pictures.
Heading the popular and touristy street of Skarnu iela is the pretty little church of St. John's. It's dwarfed by its neighbour, St. Peter's, but forms part of a pleasant little street packed with many of Riga's best restaurants. There's a whole lot of history here.
The church was formed in the 13th century as part of the Catholic Dominican order, but now belongs to the Protestant Lutherans. The evidence of its Catholic past can be seen in the etched face of a monk high on the church wall, and the convent garden tucked around the back.
St. John's church was built in the Dominican monastery after 1234.
After expulsion of the Dominicans, the building was privately owned it was used as a furniture workshop and later as a weapon arsenal.
In 1582 it became a part of the Latvian parish and in 1587-89 the eastern part of the altar was added. In the 15th century two monks were immured here of their own free will and only a small window in the wall to pass them food and drinks was left. The spot where the monks were walled up, and subsequently buried, can be easily seen today, marked by a cruciform barred aperture in the wall.
After St. Peter’s and the dome, the third larger church in the old town is St. John’s located in the southeast. First built as a chapel of the now destroyed dominican monastery, it grew into today’s big church. Although styles from gothic to baroque mix here into each other, the church has some kind of medieval aura. It’s probably because it’s in this area where you can find more medieval architecture than in any other part of the old town. The old, restored court of the former convent is only one of a handfull of structures contributing to the slightly medieval atmospehere.
Inside the church, have a look at a place where two monks were immured on their own free will. They received food and drinks through a small hole left open. Of course, the monks did not survive for long and so, that’s also the place where they were buried.
When bishop Albert came to Riga at the beginning of 13th century, he established not only the new city but also ordered to built the new residence for his needs. For this reason there was chosen John’s courtyard, where was built the new castle, but during centuries it was so uncared, that almost nothing has left. Only in the past century when serious research works was performed, it was discovered the old wall from the castle. As it was said there were located living and presentation premises. The wall is 11 meters high and more than two meters thick.
At the entrance in the courtyard, on the wall you can see the old coat of arms.
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