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

Blackheads House

Old Rīga

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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Old Rīga attractions

1. Statue of St Roland

0.03 MILES

A statue of St Roland, the city’s patron, takes pride of place on the square in front of the town hall.

2. Latvian Riflemen Monument

0.04 MILES

Latvian Riflemen Sq, on the west side of the future home of the Occupation Museum, is dominated by the imposing and controversial statue honouring Latvia…

3. Mentzendorff's House

0.05 MILES

Built in 1695 as the home of a wealthy German glazier, this sparsely furnished house offers insight into everyday life for Rīga's successful merchants…

4. Town Hall

0.06 MILES

Rīga's historic town hall was destroyed in WWII and rebuilt from scratch in 2003. A statue of St Roland, the city’s patron, takes pride of place on the…

5. St Peter's Church

0.08 MILES

Forming the centrepiece of Rīga’s skyline, this Gothic church is thought to be around 800 years old, making it one of the oldest medieval buildings in the…

6. Museum of Decorative Arts & Design

0.11 MILES

The former St George’s Church houses a museum devoted to applied art from the art nouveau period to the present, including an impressive collection of…

7. Museum of the Barricades of 1991

0.11 MILES

Latvia's independence came after enormous struggles. One of the most remarkable stories involves the barricades built by thousands of citizens around…

8. Rīga Porcelain Museum

0.14 MILES

This quirky museum houses a collection of porcelain assembled in now-defunct local porcelain factories from Soviet times. One was run by Russians hailing…