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EXPOSITION

HISTORY

The House of the Black Heads, originally known as the New House, was built in 1334 as part of the Riga Town Hall Square ensemble but has been rebuilt several times since 1522.

The building was initially constructed as a place for meetings and feasts held by various social organisations in Riga, however, in the 17th century, the jovial and enterprising foreigners, comprised of mostly German merchants, who were known as the Brotherhood of Black Heads, became the sole residents of the building. One of the many guardians of the association was Saint Maurice — the commander of the Roman Legion, who died a terrible martyr’s death by having his head cut off. The image of a moor's head subsequently became the identifying sign and symbol of the Black Heads and was also incorporated in the association’s coat of arms.

During World War II, the building deemed as the fanciest jewel of Riga was reduced to rubble — after the bombardment after being bombarded by two armies, the building burned down and was later blown up.

 

 

 

Medieval cellars

The cellars were constructed together with the main building in 1334 and are the only parts of the building that have survived to the present day in their original historical form.The cellars once served as a storage area used by merchants. The brotherhood's wine reserves and treasures brought by merchants, such as grain, leathers, flax, honey, wax, and other goods, are said to have been stored here.

 

  

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Nowadays, visitors can familiarise themselves with the history of the Brotherhood of the Black Heads by engaging in educational activities in the cellars.     

Historical cabinets

The historical cabinets of the House of the Black Heads have been set up in the style of a 19th century interior.

The meetings of the council of brotherhood are said to have taken place in the cabinets.

The work offices of the president of Latvia were located in the historical cabinets from 2012 to 2016.

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Silver collection

The contemporary silver collection of the House of the Black Heads can be viewed in the historical cabinets.

It is comprised of gifted and purchased silver objects. This is one of the largest silver collections in the Baltic States. 

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Celebration halls

The most beautiful balls in Riga have long been held in the Celebration hall of the house. The ceiling of the Celebration hall depicts one of the masterpieces of decorative and monumental painting - the apotheosis of Saint Mauritius.

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Lübeck Hall - smaller but as gorgeous as the Celebration hall. The painting with the city panorama is so reminiscent of Riga that it seems - you have entered the Riga hall!

The Salon

The Salon is the smallest hall of the House of the Black Heads. Its interior was restored in 2020 in the style characteristic to the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. No historical records exist that would provide evidence that there was once a Salon hall in the House of the Black Heads, but according to the old floor plan, it is known that there was a serving room here.

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The Blue Guard Hall

In 1720, merchant journeymen founded a new cavalrymen’s company, which was named the Blue Landlord Company or the Blue Guard due to the light blue, silver adorned uniforms.

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The Blue Guard room was restored in 2020, and its interior has been fashioned in the Rococo art style to honour the Blue Guard. This style was very popular in Europe in the 18th century, especially in France.

You will be able to relax by taking a seat on the furniture made in the second half of the 19th century and restored in modern times.