Tucked away in Mazā Pils iela you will find the Three Brothers – three Medieval to Baroque period houses, in a terrace like format. In medieval times houses at this location would have been on the outskirts of the city and home to craftsmen and their families. Today, the houses are home to the Latvian Museum of Architecture (No 19 – the centre house) and the State Inspectorate for Heritage Protection which you likely would not have cause to visit.
The white house on the right (No 17) is the oldest of the three (and also Riga’s oldest masonry dwelling) being built around 1490 in a Dutch Renaissance style. This house displays some nice Gothic niches and a stepped pediment/gable. The visitor will also note that this house is set back further than the other two brothers and later buildings indicating that either Mazā Pils iela was once wider than it is now or, more, likely space was at a premium in later years and the two later houses were built out to the edge of the road, forgoing a front terrace/garden.
I did wonder why the windows were so small in this house and presumed that a window tax must have been place when the house was built though, on reflection, I think window taxes were a later invention and it was because glass was an expensive commodity at this time and was not common in ordinary homes until the 17th century.
The middle brother (No 19), in a Dutch Mannerism style, was built in 1646 and is clearly the most posh of the three. Above the entrance door (from 1746) you will notice an inscription – “Soli deo gloria!” (“Glory to God alone!”).
The narrow green house (No 21), the youngest brother, was built in the second half of the 17th century with small apartments on each floor and a Baroque curved pediment. While you won’t be able to make it out in my photos attached, there is a small carved stone mask above the front door which, according to the owners, protected residents from evil spirits.
While individually nice the houses are even more interesting positioned, as they are, in a row.
The Latvian Museum of Architecture in No 19 does not have a permanent display and puts on changing exhibitions. The exhibition on when I visited was entitled ‘Play architecture’ which, from the billing, would have been way to esoteric for me so I passed up on visiting, even though entry was free and I did miss out on seeing the inner courtyard and an old version of Riga’s Coat of Arms.
Museum Opening Hours
Monday: 09:00 – 18:00
Tuesday – Thursday: 09:00 – 17:00
Friday: 09:00 – 16:00
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 – Art Nouveau in the Old City – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my first entry – SamaraH Hotel Metropole – Riga.