Blackheads House

Old Rīga

House of the Blackheads in Riga in a beautiful summer day, Latvia; Shutterstock ID 532211890; Your name (First / Last): Gemma Graham; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: 100 Cities Guides app image downloads

Shutterstock / S-F

Built in 1344 as a veritable fraternity house for the Blackheads guild of unmarried German merchants, the original house was bombed in 1941 and flattened by the Soviets seven years later. Somehow the original blueprints survived and an exact replica of this fantastically ornate structure was completed in 2001 for Rīga’s 800th birthday.

It was here, on Christmas Eve in the year 1510, that a merrily intoxicated bunch of lads schlepped a great pine tree up to the clubhouse and decked it in flowers before setting it ablaze at the end of the night – and the tradition of the Christmas tree was born.