St. Peter's Church, Riga
St. Peter's Church is a tall Lutheran
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 church in Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

, Latvia, named after Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...



First mention of the St. Peter's Church is in records dating to 1209. The church was a masonry
Masonry is the building of structures from individual units laid in and bound together by mortar; the term masonry can also refer to the units themselves. The common materials of masonry construction are brick, stone, marble, granite, travertine, limestone; concrete block, glass block, stucco, and...

 construction and therefore undamaged by a city fire in Riga that year. The history of the church can be divided into three distinct periods: two associated with Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 and Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 building styles, the third with the early Baroque
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

 period. The middle section of the church was built during the 13th century, which encompasses the first period. The only remnants of this period are located in the outer nave
In Romanesque and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral basilica and church architecture, the nave is the central approach to the high altar, the main body of the church. "Nave" was probably suggested by the keel shape of its vaulting...

 walls and on the inside of a few pillars in the nave, around which larger pillars were later built.

Second period of construction

The second period dates to 1408–09, when master builders Johannes Rumeschottel  from Rostock
Rostock -Early history:In the 11th century Polabian Slavs founded a settlement at the Warnow river called Roztoc ; the name Rostock is derived from that designation. The Danish king Valdemar I set the town aflame in 1161.Afterwards the place was settled by German traders...

 supervised the construction of the sanctuary
A sanctuary is any place of safety. They may be categorized into human and non-human .- Religious sanctuary :A religious sanctuary can be a sacred place , or a consecrated area of a church or temple around its tabernacle or altar.- Sanctuary as a sacred place :#Sanctuary as a sacred place:#:In...

, based on the St. Mary's Church
St. Mary's Church, Rostock
St. Mary's Church, Rostock, in German Marienkirche, is the biggest of three town churches found in the Hanseatic city of Rostock, in northern Germany. The other two are St. Petri and St. Nicholas . A fourth, St. James , was heavily damaged during the Second World War and subsequently demolished. St...

 in Rostock. The sanctuary was almost finished by 1409, but due to the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War it was completed and dedicated only in 1419. Other construction work was interrupted by the plague in 1420 and resumed in the 1430's. The 13th century church was reconstructed in 1456–66 to conform to the newly built sanctuary. Both constructions were joined in the 1470's, thereby creating a mighty basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

 with three aisle
An aisle is, in general, a space for walking with rows of seats on both sides or with rows of seats on one side and a wall on the other...

s and ornate vaulted ceiling
Vault (architecture)
A Vault is an architectural term for an arched form used to provide a space with a ceiling or roof. The parts of a vault exert lateral thrust that require a counter resistance. When vaults are built underground, the ground gives all the resistance required...

s. The old bell tower was replaced in 1456, and a bell was hung in the new tower in 1477. A 136 metres (446.2 ft) octagonal steeple
Steeple (architecture)
A steeple, in architecture, is a tall tower on a building, often topped by a spire. Steeples are very common on Christian churches and cathedrals and the use of the term generally connotes a religious structure...

 was added to the tower in 1491, which, along with the church's front facade, dominated the silhouette of Riga. The tower collapsed 11 March 1666, destroying a neighboring building and burying eight people in the rubble. The cornerstone for a new tower was laid 29 June 1667.

Third period of construction

The third period of construction dates to 1671–90, with the construction of the western facade and the new tower. The roof, vaulted ceilings and furnishings were also renovated during this time. Jacob Josten, the Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

-born master builder of Riga, designed the tower and supervised its construction, which was begun April 1671 by the master mason Heinrich Henicke. Josten was replaced in 1675 by Rupert Bindenshu (1645–1698), the next master builder of Riga. The tower was completed in 1677, but it, along with the church interior, were destroyed already 21 May 1677, during a citywide fire. Bindenshu supervised the subsequent repairs in 1677–79: vaulted wooden ceilings replaced the former masonry vaulted ceilings, and the roof, windows, interior and furnishings were replaced or renovated. First service in the renovated church took place 14 September 1679.
Renovation of the tower began 1686 and was designed by the city engineer Friedrich S. von Dahlen. The city council
City council
A city council or town council is the legislative body that governs a city, town, municipality or local government area.-Australia & NZ:Because of the differences in legislation between the States, the exact definition of a City Council varies...

 did not approve of the half-finished steeple, and so it was torn down in 1688. A new 64.5 metres (211.6 ft) copper-roofed steeple, designed by Bindenshu, was then built. A sphere
A sphere is a perfectly round geometrical object in three-dimensional space, such as the shape of a round ball. Like a circle in two dimensions, a perfect sphere is completely symmetrical around its center, with all points on the surface lying the same distance r from the center point...

 and rooster
A rooster, also known as a cockerel, cock or chanticleer, is a male chicken with the female being called a hen. Immature male chickens of less than a year's age are called cockerels...

 were set atop the steeple 10 May 1690. This tower was the tallest wooden construction in Europe at the time.
The western facade of the church was also altered in the later 17th century. The brick construction was covered with reddish limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 from Salaspils
Salaspils is a town in Latvia, the administrative centre of Salaspils municipality. The town is situated on the northern bank of the Daugava River 18 kilometers to the south-east of the city of Riga.-History:...

 and Koknese
Koknese is a historic town in Latvia, the administrative centre of Koknese municipality on the right bank of the Daugava River. It has a population of nearly 3,000.-History:...

, and the facade was decorated with volute
A volute is a spiral scroll-like ornament that forms the basis of the Ionic order, found in the capital of the Ionic column. It was later incorporated into Corinthian order and Composite column capitals...

s, pilaster
A pilaster is a slightly-projecting column built into or applied to the face of a wall. Most commonly flattened or rectangular in form, pilasters can also take a half-round form or the shape of any type of column, including tortile....

s, cornice
Cornice molding is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns any building or furniture element: the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the edge of a pedestal. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding.The function of the projecting...

s, vases and borders made of Gotland
Gotland is a county, province, municipality and diocese of Sweden; it is Sweden's largest island and the largest island in the Baltic Sea. At 3,140 square kilometers in area, the region makes up less than one percent of Sweden's total land area...

 stone. In 1692 the Riga City Council
Riga City Council
Riga City Council is the government of Riga City, the capital of Latvia. It is located in the Riga Town Hall at the Town Hall Square in the very heart of Riga....

 approved a design by Bindenshu and the mason Andreas Peterman for three identical portals. The merchant Klaus Mistett financed the portals, which were built by H. Henneken, Johann Daniel Schauss, Johann Gerwin and several other sculptors. The portals were decorated with Baroque style limestone sculptures. In 1694 L. Martini installed a new tower clock with a glockenspiel
A glockenspiel is a percussion instrument composed of a set of tuned keys arranged in the fashion of the keyboard of a piano. In this way, it is similar to the xylophone; however, the xylophone's bars are made of wood, while the glockenspiel's are metal plates or tubes, and making it a metallophone...

 from Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...


First reconstruction

The newly renovated church served for a mere 29 years, for lightning struck and set fire to the tower and church 10 May 1721. Only the church and tower walls remained standing after the fire. Reconstruction of the church began immediately under the direction of the master carpenter Tom Bochum and master mason Kristofer Meinert. By 1723 the building already had a temporary roof. Johann Heinrich Wilbern took over supervision of the project in 1740, and under his direction a new 69.6 metres (228.3 ft) steeple was built in 1746. The steeple was covered with copper-plate and the rooster was gilded
The term gilding covers a number of decorative techniques for applying fine gold leaf or powder to solid surfaces such as wood, stone, or metal to give a thin coating of gold. A gilded object is described as "gilt"...

 in 1746–47.
Christoph Haberland designed a new marble pulpit
Pulpit is a speakers' stand in a church. In many Christian churches, there are two speakers' stands at the front of the church. Typically, the one on the left is called the pulpit...

 for the church, which was built in Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 in 1793. In 1794 Haberland renovated the wooden vaulted ceilings in the central sections of the nave. The interior walls were plastered and the lower sections of the pillars were covered with oak panels in 1885 under the direction of architect Reinhold Georg Schmaeling (1840–1917).

Second reconstruction

The church burned down 29 June 1941. Conservation and restoration began 1954 with research by architect Pēteris Saulītis. The work was carried out from 1967 to 1983 under the direction of Saulītis and architect Gunārs Zirnis. Renovation began with the metal tower frame. A rooster – a precise reproduction of the previous rooster and the seventh rooster in all – was placed atop the steeple 21 August 1970. The renovated tower clock began to show time in July 1975. According to tradition, it has only an hour hand. The bell music began in 1976; it plays the Latvian folk melody "Rīga dimd
Rīga dimd
Rīga dimd is the title of a traditional Latvian folk song that is best known as a musical composition by Jānis Cimze. Cimze's first composition of the song is from 1872, and the composition was performed 1873 at the I All-Latvian Singing Festival by a male choir.- Lyrics :- External links :*...

" five times a day and bells ring at the top of every hour. The tower has an elevator
An elevator is a type of vertical transport equipment that efficiently moves people or goods between floors of a building, vessel or other structures...

 installed that allows visitors a view of Riga from a height of 72 metres (236.2 ft). Renovation of the interior of the church ended in 1984. The polish company "PKZ" restored the main facade and portals in 1987–91. The St. Peter's Latvian Lutheran congregation resumed services in the church 1991, and the church was returned to the ownership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia is a Lutheran Protestant church in Latvia. Latvia's Lutheran heritage dates back to the Reformation. Both the Nazi and communist regimes persecuted the church harshly before religious freedom returned to Latvia in 1988.The Church is governed by a...

on 4 April 2006.

Panorama 360°


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