House of the Blackheads (Riga)

Rīga, Latvia

House of the Blackheads (Riga)


The House of the Blackheads (Latvian: Melngalvju nams, German: Schwarzhäupterhaus) is a building situated in the old town of Riga, Latvia. The original building was erected during the first third of the 14th century for the Brotherhood of Blackheads, a guild for unmarried merchants, shipowners, and foreigners in Riga. Major works were done in the early 17th century, adding most of the Mannerist ornamentation. The sculptures were made by the workshop of August Volz. Additionally, it is the site of the first decorated Christmas tree, which was erected in 1510.

The building was bombed to a ruin by the Germans on June 28, 1941 — a week after the launching of Operation Barbarossa — and the remains were demolished by the Soviets in 1948. It was rebuilt between 1996 and 1999 with funds provided by Valērijs Kargins, the president of Parex Bank. Part of the funds donated were from all the people who wanted to participate in the rebuilding process, by joining in the event ''I build the House of the Black Heads'', where by donating 5 lats (approximately 7-11 EUR) they could symbolically put a brick on the wall. There were more than 5,000 participants. The House of the Black Heads was officially opened on December 9, 1999.

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