Riga – St George’s Church


   St. George’s Church was built at the beginning of the 13th century on the initiative of the Order of Livonian Brothers of the Sword as the chapel of the first castle, or rather the order’s court. It was mentioned in 1209, when the orders clerk Wickbertus killed master Wenno von Rohrbach and priest Johannes, and then fled from the scene of the crime to the chapel (“fugientem eum a domo in capellam”).
   In 1225 a great fire broke out in Riga, it is assumed, however, that the chapel did not suffer major damages, and during the reconstruction of the surrounding episcopal and monastic buildings, it was enlarged by a sacristy. A year later, the papal legate Wilhelm of Modena consecrated the renovated building.
It was expanded again at the end of the 13th or the beginning of the 14th century.
   In 1297 it was damaged during battles between the townspeople and the order, fortunately unlike the neighboring castle, it avoided total destruction. After 1330, master Everhard von Monheim began building a new castle on the Daugava river, and on the site of the old, next to the church of St. George was erected a hospital and a monastery of Holy Spirit. In the mid-sixteenth century, due to the Reformation, the temple was closed and the building began to be used as a warehouse. It served this function until 1989, when the Museum of Decorative Applied Arts was installed here after the renovation.


   The original church from the beginning of the 13th century was a simple aisleless building consisting of a small, four-sided nave measuring 7.5 x 7.5 meters and a semicircular apse on the eastern side, located on the south-west side of the oldest castle complex.
   After the town fire in 1215, a narrow nave-length sacristy was added to the chapel from the north, while at the end of the 13th or early 14th century a new nave was erected on the west side, thanks to which the older part became the chancel of the new building. The new nave was not a perfect rectangle, because the southern wall was slightly curved towards the outside, and the dimensions of the whole were 22.5 meters long, 13 meters wide in the western part and 13.8 meters in the eastern part. Inside, the nave was divided by two quadrilateral pillars in two aisles.

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Alttoa K., Bergholde-Wolf A., Dirveiks I., Grosmane E., Herrmann C., Kadakas V., Ose J., Randla A., Mittelalterlichen Baukunst in Livland (Estland und Lettland). Die Architektur einer historischen Grenzregion im Nordosten Europas, Berlin 2017.
Caune A., Ose I., Die Befestigungen der Burgen und der Stadt Riga vom 13. bis 16. Jh., [w:] Castella Maris Baltici VII, red.  F. Biermann, M. Müller, C. Herrmann. Greifswald, 2006.