The Cat House takes its name from two angry black cats, one perched on each of the two turrets of this rather grand 1909 Medieval / Art Nouveau styled house, located across the road from the Great Guild.
The house was owned by a wealthy Latvian tradesman who sought to join the Great Guild, an organisation promoting and protecting the interests of its wealthy merchant members. The ethnocentric German Guild rejected the application and the story goes that, as a mark of protest or revenge, the Latvian gentlemen had the two cats turned such that their asses pointed directly at the offending Great Guild across the road. One can but imagine the reactions and the ensuing discussions in Guild meetings.
After a lengthy court battle the man was admitted to the Guild and the cats posteriors were redirected away from the Guild building.
Another story has it that the cats, with arched backs and raised tails, had their posteriors pointed toward the Riga Town Hall following a dispute with the Council. The Town Hall was in the same direction as the Great Guild, though further away.
Personally I prefer the Guild version but whatever the story is behind the cats they have become an unofficial symbol of Riga and feature on all sorts of promotional material and souvenirs.
While the cats are the main attraction and talking point of this building do lower your eyes and admire some of the very nice Art Nouveau features on the exterior of the building as well. I particularly liked the decoration around the main door as depicted above.
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries on the Old City area of Riga. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Great & Small Guild Halls – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my first entry – SamaraH Hotel Metropole – Riga.