St. Peter's church

Town Hall Square

Originally formed from the Market Square, the Town Hall Square was the economic and administrative center of Riga until the 19th century. City festivals and criminal trials took place at the Town Hall Square.  But only nobles were sentenced here as convictions for common people carried out far away from the town, on Stabu (pole) Street. In the middle of the Town Hall Square a pit was dug in the days of executions, and the hill was covered by a black cloth on which the city executioner cut off heads. At one time there was no permanent executioner in Riga, and then the privilege to perform these duties belonged to the guild of weavers.

When, the Mayor of Riga Welling was sentenced to death, the executioner attempted three times to cut off his head unsuccessfully. In the end, he took the knife from his pocket to finish the job.

All city residents including children came to see the executions on Town Hall Square. They say the morning after the execution children, under the influence of the previous day’s bloody entertainment, played a brutal game which led to a 6-year-old girl fatally stabbing her friend with a kitchen knife. The young murderer was immediately sentenced to death and the poor child’s head was cut off in the cellars of the Powder Tower.

In the middle of the square you can see the symbol of the hanseatic cities - a statue of Roland! Some 100 years ago the distances were measured from the edge of Roland’s sword.
City Hall where the Riga City Council operates from is the white building in front of the statue. The first Town Hall was built in 1785. This building burned in the fire of 1941 and was fully destroyed in 1954. New Town Hall building houses the Riga City Council since 2003.

The beautiful building opposite to the Town Hall – is the Blackhead’s House – the brotherhood of wealthy merchants. Only unmarried merchants could be taken in by this society. After marriage they moved to The Great Guild. Brotherhood members would patrol Riga at night, and played an active role in society in general. The name of this organization and the house was taken from the deceased martyrs moor Maurizio. As written in ancient texts, Riga citizens could meet their spiritual and social needs in the House of Blackheads. The original building was also demolished in 1941 and rebuilt again in 1999. Museum and various community organizations like the Centre for Information and Coordination of Tourism have premises in the newly built Blackhead’s House.
The black building near to it is the former Museum of Latvian Red Riflemen has housed the Museum of The Occupation of Latvia since 1993. The museum offers a free opportunity to get acquainted with the dark side of Latvian history, beginning in the 1940s. The monument for Latvian riflemen can be seen in front of the museum. Latvian riflemen were divided into White and Red riflemen after the revolution in Russia. Historically Latvians have repeatedly had to fight for their Fatherland on different fronts. In late 1918 Lenin signed the Acknowledgement of the Independence of Latvia. This date - the 18th November of 1918 became the birthday of the Latvian State.

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