Riga’s medieval city walls had eight gates. Today only one of those gates, that giving access to Jacob’s Barracks from the Old City, Swedish Gate, remains.

I mentioned in my Riga City Walls review that as the walls became less critical from a defensive perspective houses started to be built up against them. This explains the residence above Swedish Gate.

It is said that the occupier of this residence, a rich trader, build the gate so that he could avoid having to pay a fee to use other gates and at the same time he could charge a fee to others to use his gate.

The Swedish Gate was so called in 1698 to celebrate Sweden’s occupation of the city and is, as far as I know, the only physical reminder of Swedish rule in the city. Sweden occupied Latvia between 1621 and 1710, a period seen by some as one of the City’s golden ages.

Another legend tells of how a local girl, who fell selflessly in love with a Swedish soldier on duty near the Swedish Gate, was sealed within the City Walls by the gate as warning to others and a punishment for fraternising with the soldier, something very much prohibited at the time. Apparently any visitor, him or herself capable of selfless love, visiting the wall at midnight can still hear the unhappy girl whispering “I love him”.

For some time the residence above the gate (or it could have been one very close to the gate – perhaps the one in picture 4 attached) was occupied by the town’s executioner, also the local garbage collector. The story goes, that the night before an execution he would leave a red rose on the window ledge to announce the impending execution.

Also of note (and depicted in my second picture) are the two upturned cannons embedded on either side of the gate entrance.

On the inside of the gate there are a few lovely narrow medieval cobbled streets including Trokšnu Iela, Old Riga’s narrowest and one of its most atmospheric streets (final picture). Do set aside some time for a wander in the area and keep an eye out for the artwork depicted in another of my entries  – Graffiti in the Old City. You may or may not see it!

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 – ‘Graffiti’ in the Old City – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my first entry – SamaraH Hotel Metropole – Riga.

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