The octagonal Lutheran Church of Jesus, designed by architect H. F. Breitkreic and to the rear of the unmissable Latvian Academy of Sciences, was constructed in 1818 (renovated 1939) and, with its 37 metres high two tier tower, it is the largest wooden church in Riga and one of the largest wooden churches in Europe. Given its colour it is hard to tell that this is a wooden building until you are right up beside it.
It is the latest in a series of Lutheran Churches on the site.
The first church here, then outside the City’s defensive walls, was built by Sweden in the early 1600s to celebrate its capture of Riga in 1621, during the Polish – Swedish War. Work was completed on the church in 1638 only to see it destroyed by the Russian Army under Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in the 1656 Siege of Riga. Rebuilt in 1688, it was again destroyed during the Great Northern War when, in 1710, Riga became part of the Russian Empire. Rebuilt once more in 1733 it was razed again, along with the nearby Annunciation of Our Most Holy Lady Church and other buildings in the area, in 1812 to deprive Napoleon’s army of shelter.
Internally the church is beautifully plain with 16 pairs of wooden columns supporting the roof of the circular worship area. The church’s bronze bell dates from 1708 (from an earlier church) and is inscribed with the name of its maker, Jacob Rohde, while its German organ dates from 1889.
Tue 14:00-20:00, Wed 09:30-15:00, Thu 14:00-18:00, Fri 09:30-14:00, Sun 09:00-13:00. Closed Mon, Sat.