The 123-metre high, three-tiered spire of St Peter's Church is the undoubted symbol of Riga, the capital of Latvia. This brick-built church dates from the early 15th Century though the spire dates from just after WWII, German shelling having destroyed the previous wooden spire in 1941. Much of the interior decoration was destroyed by rioting Protestants in the early 1500s.
Heading away from the church, the visitor comes to the Town Hall Square, which contains arguably the most beautiful buildings in the Old Town. They are a complete reconstruction of the House of the Blackheads, which was demolished by the Soviet authorities just after WWII. The buildings were completed in 2001 and their vibrant cleanliness is a joy to behold.
Facing the front of the House of the Blackheads, the original building on the right dated from the 1300s, whereas the original building on the left dated from the 1890s. The House of the Blackheads was originally used by a number of Hanseatic guilds, but became best known for being the headquarters of the Blackheads, a group of merchants whose patron was the Roman warrior-saint Maurice, who was originally from North Africa.
Julian has written articles on Middle Eastern and European architecture for the US magazine Skipping Stones. He has written travel articles that were published in The Toronto Globe and Mail, Fate Magazine, National Catholic Register, and Northwest Travel. Julian has also written articles for the In The Know Traveler, Go Nomad, InTravelmag, and Go World Travel websites. He has also taken many photographs that have appeared in travel guides by National Geographic, Thomas Cook and The Rough Guides. Examples of his work can be found at http://www.photographersdirect.com/sellers/details.asp?portfolio=13734