The Great Northern War saw Latvia move (not that it had any choice in the matter) from occupation by Sweden to occupation by Russia in 1710 and resulted in Riga’s fortifications and barracks being severely damaged.
In 1739 City Aldermen sought, and obtained, permission from Russia to build a military barracks that would house one thousand men on this site along Torna Street. Four wooden barracks were soon constructed. By 1772 the wooden structures had been replaced by the stone structure of the present day Jacob's Barracks (actually three joined buildings with a length of 230 metres) though, like everything else in Riga, the Barracks have gone through numerous renovations and changes since construction.
In the original Barracks all entrances and windows where on Torna Street as the rear of the building (Basteja Boulevard side) abutted city ramparts which meet the building almost at roof level. Tsar Alexander II gave permission to level the ramparts in 1858 and, subsequent to this, rear doors and windows were added to the Barracks on this side.
In addition to housing troops, over the years Jacob’s Barracks have been home to various government agencies, schools and stores and in the 1920/30s there were unfulfilled plans to convert them into a hotel and theatre.
During the subsequent Soviet occupations of Latvia the Barracks housed the Nahimova War School and the Supreme Command Centre of the Soviet Army’s Construction Department for the Baltic States.
Post independence in 1991 they returned to the ownership of the City of Riga and, after an extensive renovation, today they are home to shops, bars, restaurants, cafés, beauty salons and the like. What I could not find was any trace of the building’s original use – no museum or other information here.
The east façade of the Barracks, by which you will most likely enter Torna Street, is covered with pictures of coats-of-arms of the towns and cities of Latvia.
On the other side of Torna Street, which is pedestrianised, is the most intact section of what remains of Riga City walls. Stalls selling souvenirs and other things pop up on the street. I had a quick look but nothing particularly excited me.
To-day, on Torna Street, the boots and guns of occupying armies have well and truly given way to the walking shoes and cameras of invading tourists. It is a great spot to relax over a coffee or something stronger as you make your way around the Old City.
My Next Riga Old City Review
The Jacob's Barracks(Jekaba kazarmas) are situated in the very centre of the Old Riga parallel to Torna iela. It's the long yellow building with red-roofed and was built in the 18th century. At those times it was the longest building in Riga. they were restored several times,from the very beginning until the 1990s .The buildings were used by many armies until the last restoration in 1997.The remarkable building can be regarded as a border between the city's history and contemporary times. Today they are home of many intimate restaurants, bars and cafes, beauty salons, travel agencies, and souvenir shops.
The price from street vendor souvenir shops were a little cheaper than other shops.I bought some postcards here.
The building of the Barrack itself I didn't pay attention much ,cuz it's just a plain design ,nothing special ,only its history itself that's matter.The things I like most here is the pictures of coats-of-arms of the towns and cities of Latvia that painted on the east facade.The design is a symbol unique to corporation or its own town.Some of them are cute , like 'smiling mole' from Vilaka town.Most design are from nature ,many animals ; some are fruits ,trees ,sun and stars.I like to watch them .One thing.. I want to know more history about them of how and why each design symbolize their towns.
These barracks are the longest building in old Riga and once long time ago - in old Europe too. It stretches mostly in all right side of the street. They were built in 18th century. Very charming street just to walk, it is said, in Christmas there are religious decorations are put and Christmas market takes place.
Stretching out in a long yellow line, and fronted by a equally long green berm (at least it's green in the summer), St. Jacob's Depot is probably the longest building in the city. Built originally as storage depots, it later became a city barracks. Today it makes for great shopping and eating, as almost every little depot has a shop or cafe inside.
In the north part of Old Town, along one side of Torna iela, is the long yellow building (or is it actually three) called Jacob’s Barracks. When it was built in the 18th century it was the longest building in Riga. Jacob’s Barracks were built at the foot of the fortification wall round the city, on the outside of it. Now the buildings have been restored and houses many cafés, restaurants, souvenir shops and a tourist office. The street Torna iela is a traffic free, pedestrian street.