Kurzeme district Riga - Travel East and Central Europe

St Martin Evangelical Luthern Church

St Martin Church Kurzeme Riga

St Martin Church Kurzeme Riga

St Martin's Church, close to Agenkalns Cemetery, is one of Riga's earliest Eclectic style churches. The idea of building a church developed among the members of the congregation in 1845, in the lead-up to a major anniversary of Martin Luther.

In 1850, a design by architect Johann Daniel Felsko was approved, and the construction work started in 1851. Wilhelm Krüger and his assistants Wilhelm Steinert and Krüte were responsible for this work. The work completed in 1852, consecration was in 1855.

Adding one tower

St Martin Church Interior Kurzeme Riga

St Martin Church Interior Kurzeme Riga

The church originally had a single tower, with an elaborate facade at the east end. As seen in an engraving made in Leipzig by August Wegner, the church was very unusual on account of its ascetic form. In 1887, the church was altered by a design by architect Heinrich Scheel, and obtained its present Romanesque appearance. In place of the single tower, a pair of towers with pyramidal spires was added.

A two-storey semi-circular apse appeared at the east end, lit by the windows of a small half-rotunda above. Only the gable of the original facade stayed, partially removing the stepped recesses. Inside the church, galleries extending up to the apse enclose the aisled nave. The nave has barrel vaulting, while the aisles have a horizontal ceiling. 8 polygonal columns support the vault of the nave and the galleries.

St Martin Church East side

St Martin Church East side

The altarpiece "Golgotha" (1870's) is a copy of a painting by the Estonian artist Johann Köhler, the original was for the St John's Lutheran Church in Cesis. A column with palmette and volutes supports the podium of the pulpit. There's an angel figure with a cross placed in the upper part of the roof of the pulpit.

St Martin's still retains its old pastorage at Martina iela 3, and a small wooden house for the sexton, at Martina 1. The architecture of these buildings, with their expressive outline, roots in the Classical tradition. It seems that the pastorage is one of the few original Riga pastors' residences still in existence.

Holy Trinity Orthodox Church Kurzeme

Holy Trinity Orthodox Church Riga

Holy Trinity Orthodox Church Riga

The original Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Pardaugava, in the Kliversala district, is not preserved. This Baroque building appears in several late 18th century drawings by Johann Christoph Brotze and Johann Andreas Oesen. In 1865, the congregation sought permission from the Religious Consistory of Riga to build a new church. In 1890, they bought a plot a land on Meza iela and they organized a building committee.

Architect Janis Fridrihs Baumanis made the first design. Construction of the church took place between 1892 and 1895. The artist P. Zykov, who restored the icons from the old church, is responsible for decorating the church interior. The iconostasis is the work of carpenter M. Muravyev.

Daugavgriva Fortress Orthodox Church

Daugavgriva Fortress Kurzeme Riga

Daugavgriva Fortress Kurzeme Riga

In 1608, the Swedish built a redoubt in the area between the mouth of the river Daugava and the River Bullupe, where the district of Bolderaja has now developed. Later, it changed into a fortress known as Neumünde. In 1680, the old Daugavgriva Fortress, on the right bank of the Daugava, on what is now the island of Mangalsala, was abolished, and Neumünde Fortress was renamed Daugavgriva (Dünamünde) Fortress.

After incorporating Vidzeme into Russia, major alteration work was undertaken on Daugavgriva Fortress, and in the early 18th century the first wooden Orthodox church was built.

First masonry church

Church of Transfiguration remains

Church of Transfiguration remains

In March 1772, the Senate ordered the construction of a new masonry church in its place. The style was Early Classical after a design by Alexander Wüst, architect of the Synod of St Petersburg. Most of the construction work was essentially done by 1776, and in August 1778 the church was consecrated to the Transfiguration of Christ.

The church could hold 500 worshipers and initially served as a garrison church. The new church was an elongated single-aisle masonry structure with a small transept at the east end, beyond which was a semicircular apse.

From bell tower to water tower

The main architectural feature was the three-storey bell tower over the narthex. Above the crossing was a high spherical dome, supported on a cylindrical tower-like drum. Above this great dome was an onion cupola with a cross.

In 1917, the Russian army abandoned the fortress and blew it up. In the autumn of 1919, during the battle for Latvia's independence, the church was shelled. After driving the forces of  Bermondt out, the fortress housed a Latvian garrison. In the 1930's, the ruins of the church were demolished. Today, only the bell tower remains, altered to serve as a water tower during the Soviet occupation.

Kurzeme Riga Map and Weather

Weather in Riga

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High 79°/Low 59°
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