Riga – House of the Brotherhood of the Blackheads


The building was erected in the 30s of the 14th century as a meeting and celebrations place for various public organizations in Riga. For the first time in sources, it was mentioned in 1334 as the house of the Great Guild. From the seventeenth century, it was the main seat of the so-called Brotherhood of the Blackheads (Melngalvju Nams), an association gathering wealthy and unmarried merchants of German descent, having significant influence on the city’s management. The name of the house came from Saint Maurice, patron of the brotherhood, whose in iconography was depicted as a dark-skinned figure. During its history, the building has been repeatedly rebuilt and damaged, among others in 1710 it suffered as a result of the bombing of Russian troops. Eventually, it was destroyed in 1941 and completely dismantled by the Soviet occupant in 1948. During the conservation work in 1996-1999 efforts were made to restore its pre-war appearance.

Current state

The contemporary building of the Brotherhood of the Blackheads is a reconstruction of the state from before World War II. Until the moment of its destruction, it preserved the basic form from the Middle Ages with two gables directed towards the market, however, most of the decorations and details came from the mannerist reconstruction of the seventeenth century and subsequent rebuildings from the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries. House of the Blackheads is available to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday from 11.00-18.00, and the last entrance to the building is possible at 17:00. Guests can familiarize themselves with the history of the building, the museum exhibition and preserved historic cellars, which date from the fourteenth century.

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