Riga's tallest church is dedicated to the city’s patron saint and is where you can see new artworks, watch a concert and enjoy great views of the Latvian capital.
The tiered steeple of St. Peter's Church is the tallest point in Riga, a 405-feet (123.5-meter) tall spire that soars above the Old Town. Ride the elevator up this tower for impressive views of the city. In addition to its religious services, this 13th-century Gothic building hosts art exhibitions, festivals and concerts.
St. Peter’s is one of the oldest medieval monuments in the Baltic States. Since its founding, the tower has been destroyed and reconstructed several times, a victim of lighting, strong winds and fire. During World War II, the entire building collapsed under artillery fire. Restoration works began during the 1950s and the replica tower was completed in 1973.
As you look at the church’s exterior, note that the clock’s tower has only one hand. This is deliberate and accords with an ancient tradition. Five times a day the clock tower bells play a Latvian folk tune.
Take a look inside the church’s spacious interior. Visit the crypt and see the renovated stone and wooden epitaphs adorning some of the walls. They feature coats of arms and memorial inscriptions. Examine the 16th-century menorah, a seven-pronged candle holder made of bronze. This important piece of ceremonial art was returned to its original home in the church in 2012, after being moved to Poland during World War II.
Be sure to take the elevator up the tower to the church’s observation gallery. The platform stands 236 feet (72 meters) above the ground and from here you can see the old and new city, the Daugava River and the Gulf of Riga.
Go to the church’s website for details of its ever-changing program of concerts and exhibitions. There is a new art exhibition every month.
St. Peter’s Church is located in Riga’s Old Town, close to many public transport links. The church is open every day except Mondays and there is an admission fee, which includes a trip up the tower. Children under the age of 7 get in for free.