Cat On a Hot Tin Roof in Riga

Ok, I promised you more news about the Riga Cats…….well here is the famous one, on the turret of a medieval mustard-colored house, re-modeled with Art Nouveau. It is right across the square from the Guild House. The roots of the Guild House began with the Holy Spirit Guild, Riga’s first established brotherhood, in the 13th century. The guild was for traders and craftsmen, mostly from Germany. As the story goes, a wealthy tradesman, who built the large house, was refused membership into Riga’s Tradesmen’s Guild. He was so mad, because not being allowed into the guild, would hurt his business in the city. In revenge, he had two copper statues of angry-looking cats, who appeared to be pooping, placed on his turrets with their rear ends facing the guild! The Guild members were shocked ! Following a long and documented court battle, the two sides came to an agreement. The cats were to be turned around and the tradesman was to be admitted into the guild. But, I wonder if all the controversy didn’t damage his reputation after all. Or, maybe it strengthened it, because he was willing to take on the powerful guild, that could make you or break you…. Well, the cats have survived and the tale is the talk of the town!

Riga, Latvia Cat House

I thought we should look at more of the architecture in Riga…..there are so many creative and architecturally distinct buildings…………

Riga, Latvia
Riga, Latvia
Riga, Latvia, Dome Square

and most of them have adornments of some kind to make them even more interesting!

Riga, Latvia, Lights and Dragon Flag Pole Holder

and are trimmed in interesting colors……to draw your eye up……..

Riga, Latvia, Building Statue on Livu Square

The Freedom Monument is in the center of the Historic District of Riga and marks the beginning of everything for the city. Unveiled in 1935, it was the symbol of independence and freedom for Latvia and served as the focal point of public gatherings and official ceremonies. The Freedom Monument originally was built to honor the soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence (1918-1920)  However, when Latvia was annexed by the Russians in 1940, the monument was slotted to be torn down. Instead, the Russian architect, Vera Mukhina, convinced the officials that the monument had significant artistic value and should be kept. So, the Russians re-interpreted the monument’s meaning. The three stars represented the newly created Baltic Soviet Republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and were held up by Mother Russia, to show the gratitude toward the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, for the liberation of the Baltic States. Over the years more discussion for the tearing down of the monument followed. Since the monument had been funded by donations from the residents of Latvia they felt tearing the statue down completely would cause tension among all the different ethnic groups of Latvia. In 1987, 5000 Latvians gathered to lay down flowers and voice their opinions on independence.  By 1988, it was decided that the monument should reflect “the celebration and liberation from the bondage of the tsar and German barons.”  The monument became the focal point for a variety of events, especially during their remembrance day celebrations. Which events would they celebrate?  The Russian or the Latvian?  When the Latvians proposed a celebration, the Russian-leaning folks would plan an event to counteract the other’s celebration. One year, a bicycle race was held to cause confusion and strife around the monument and break up the crowds gathering for a Latvian celebration. Another year, the monument was roped off in the middle of winter, and signs were placed that said repairs were in progress, so people would not gather there.  Eventually, all events had to be pre-approved because the government was unable to provide public safety. By 1990, Latvia gained its independence from Russia. The monument was updated in 2001 and 2006 to represent thirteen groups of Latvians, depicting Latvian culture and history. The boulevard was pedestrianized to make a plaza, surrounded by parkland, that included a bridge over the city’s canal. Now, The University of Latvia, and the National Opera House are nearby, making this area very popular for everyone. What a testament to history, this monument has served! It’s still standing!

Riga, Latvia, Monument of Freedom

The workers take a cigarette break………on a narrow street between the buildings……

Small Street, Riga, Latvia

and in another large plaza, we see more folk art on one of the buildings……..

Riga, Latvia, Building Art Work
Riga, Latvia, Building Art Work

I liked window shopping in this area too………

Riga, Latvia Shop Windows
Riga, Latvia, Shop Windows
Riga, Latvia, Shop Windows

or you could shop in these rolled, cigar-shaped booths……..

Riga, Latvia. Shopping

I’m not sure what these pieces represented, since the sign was not in English…..but there were many scattered on the city streets……

Riga, Latvia, Street Art

The political monument, “Bremen Town Musicians,” was created by Bremen artist, Krista Baumgaertel. The sculpture was a gift from Riga’s sister city, Bremen, in 1990. Based on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, these animals are not staring through a window at the robber’s feast at a table full of drinks and food, but are peering, wide eyed instead, on a completely new world through the Iron Curtain, to find a bone and one piece of meat. It is meant as as ironic view of sudden independence and the state the Russians had left then in…….

Riga, Latvia, Bremen Musicians Statue (Based on Grimm Brothers Tale of Donkey, Dog, Cat and Rooster)

Just strolling down another quiet, colorful street………

Street Scene, Riga, Latvia

where you are never too far away from a castle-looking building…….another former Guild Hall………

Riga, Latvia, Small Guild Viewed From Livu Square

and up closer………..

Riga, Latvia, Small Guild Viewed From Livu Square

and yet another church………where there is a cross on top………

Riga, Latvia, Our Lady of Sorrows Church
Riga, Latvia, Our Lady of Sorrows Church

and one last look at the round part of Riga Castle………

Riga Castle, Riga, Latvia
Round House, Riga, Latvia

and a modern square house…….

Square House, Riga, Latvia

We have enjoyed Riga so much………The Baltic countries have been a learning experience that’s for sure! Well, we must leave Riga for now, since the ship is moving on to Lithuania ……What will we discover there? See you next in Klaipeda!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Jo Shafer says:

    Fascinating, as usual. Not just the “naughty cat” story but the architecture of the various guild halls. But the shop window of ballerina dolls really grabbed my eye. They’re beautiful and exquisite. My four granddaughters would LOVE to have one.

    I’m particularly enjoying your posts on Riga and Latvia as I continue to learn more about Russian culture. I’m still reading RUSSKA by Rutherford. Perhaps I’ll finish it this weekend. In the meantime, I’ve completed my Crimean series on my garden blog. You can find the latest installment at https://invitationtothegarden.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Catherine says:

    What great story about the cats! Who would have thought of getting revenge in such a way.

    The shop windows are a delight, all my young granddaughters would be clamouring to get in there and browse. I think I would rather like to drop in too.

    They say there’s a time and a place for everything, but I can’t help but feel that the square house is in the wrong place and doesn’t reflect the ‘time’ of the rest of the area. To me, it’s town planning gone wrong, but I know there’s a lot who will disagree with me.

    I feel as if I know Riga quite well – thank you for your newsy posts and all the lovely photographs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Catherine! I was quite surprised about how much I learned about the Baltics and also how much I really enjoyed visiting these countries!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Obviously a cat house has an entirely different meaning in Riga. 🙂 The entire city looks so clean as well as beautiful. I’ve enjoyed seeing all these photos and reading about it.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed the Baltic countries. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I could not get over the cleanliness of their cities, spotless in fact, and how friendly everyone was……….and how they weren’t afraid to share what they had been through for many, many years and how proud of where they are now going.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Anita says:

    Ohh lovely! I have been a couple of times to Riga its a great city. I love the markets there too!

    Like

  5. Sartenada says:

    Hello.

    What a great post full with observations around Riga. Art is near to my hearth which means, that I enjoyed very much about this post. Thank you.

    Have a good day!

    Like

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