Riga – St James Cathedral

History

   The church was mentioned for the first time in historical sources in 1225. The main construction works were completed around 1300, although the upper two storeys of the tower were erected only at the end of the 15th century. At the beginning of the 15th century, the chapel of Holy Cross was added and the temple was transformed from the hall into a basilica. Initially, the temple was a parish church, located outside the city walls. It provided spiritual patronage for suburban residents and travelers who came after closing city gates.
  
With the beginning of the Reformation in 1524, the building suffered during urban riots and the interior was destroyed. In 1552, the church became the first Protestant temple in Riga. In 1582, when Riga came under the rule of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the church was handed over to the Jesuits. In 1621 it returned to Lutherans when the Swedish army under the command of king Gustav II Adolf occupied Riga. Then the tower received a new baroque spire. In 1812 the church was used by the Napoleonic army as a food warehouse, and in 1923 it was again handed over to Catholics, after the Riga cathedral became a Lutheran cathedral.

Architecture

   Originally, the church was a hall-type building, and was transformed into a basilica form in the fifteenth century by adding side aisles. The eastern part of the temple is finished with a lower chancel, covered with a separate, gable roof, like the central nave. The chancel is ended with a straight wall. The west side of the church is crowned with a gothic tower, decorated with blendes and friezes. The sacristy was added to the northern part of the presbytery.

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