Riga Castle

Riga Castle (Latvian: Rīgas pils) is a castle on the banks of River Daugava in Riga, the capital of Latvia. The castle was founded in 1330. This structure was thoroughly rebuilt between 1497 and 1515. Upon the castle's seizure by the Swedes, they constructed spacious annexes in 1641. The fortress was continually augmented and reconstructed between the 17th and 19th centuries. Sometime in the 1930s, some renovation work was done by architect Eižens Laube. The Latvian government declared the castle its residence in 1938. Today it is the official residence of the President of Latvia as well as home to several museums.

History

The castle was built on the basis of a treaty between Riga and the Livonian Order - in 13th century Rigans had rebelled against the Order and demolished its original castle in center of the town. Due to constant fights with Rigans the Order chose to rather build a new castle behind borders of the town, than rebuild the original castle. The site occupied by Convent of the Saint Spirit - a hospital and shelter for the poor - was chosen and the convent moved to location of the original castle. The castle served as residence of Master of the Livonian Order, but due to continuous conflicts with Rigans the residence was moved to Castle of Cēsis sometime before the castle was destroyed by Rigans in 1484. The Rigans eventually lost the fight and were forced to rebuild the castle - the restoration was finished in 1515. After the Union of Wilno order cased to exist in 1561 the Castle became Lithuanian and in 1569 - Polish-Lithuanian stronghold. In 1621. Riga came under Swedish rule and the Castle was used to house Swedish administration.

After the city came under Russian rule in early 18th century, the castle housed administration and courts of Riga Governorate and served as residence of Governors General. In 1922 the castle became residence of the President of Latvia. After Soviet occupation the castle housed Council of People Commissars of Latvian SSR in 1940-1941. In 1941 Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union moved into northern part of the castle, which therefore became known as the Pioneer Castle. Several museums are housed in the southern part of the castle. After Independence of Latvia was restored the northern part of the Castle again became the residence of President of Latvia.

Architecture

The Castle originally was a three floor building, which enclosed a rectangular courtyard, and had four rectangular towers in its corners. After the Castlej was demolished in 1484 it was rebuilt with two towers replaced by round towers following the latest develeopments of military technologies. The Castle experienced vast development during 17th century when it was almost constantly under construction. In 1682 Arsenal was attached to the castle, it was torn down about one hundred years later, in 1783 to build a court/house.