Riga – city defensive walls


The city was founded in 1201 at the mouth of the river Riga to Daugava, by the bishop of Livonia Albert von Bekeshovede. It was the main gathering point for the arriving crusaders in the ongoing struggle against Balts and Ugrofins. The basic circumference of Riga’s defensive walls was completed in the 13th century. In the 14th and 15th centuries the fortifications were enlarged and modernized. Serious destruction of fortifications was caused by Polish-Swedish and Swedish-Russian wars in the 17th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, they were almost completely demolished.


In its late medieval form, the defensive wall of Riga was about 9 meters high and 1.5 meters thick. It was built of brick on a stone foundation. Its top was crowned with battlement and a covered porch for the defenders. It was reinforced with 28 towers, which were located every 70-120 meters. In the 16th century, the fortifications extended to 2 kilometers and 200 meters. Initially, rectangular halftowers were erected, open from the side of the city, with time rebuilt into closed, four-sided. Later, cylindrical towers, adapted to use firearms, were also built. Pulvertornis, the Powder Tower built around 1330 from red brick, has survived to this day. Its height is 26 meters, the wall diameter is 14.5 meters, and the wall thickness is over 2.5 meters.

Current state

Until today, only the Pulvertornis, that is the Powder cannon Tower survived from the medieval fortifications, rebuilt after the 17th century damages and a reconstructed fragment of fortifications with a four-sided tower in its vicinity. Currently, the Latvian War Museum is located in the Powder Tower and the adjacent building.

show four-sided tower on map

show Powder Tower on map

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Borowski T, Miasta, zamki i klasztory, Inflanty, Warszawa 2010.