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Look out for hidden templar treasure!

By Inese Timuka . 11.11.2009

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  Just a quick glance around Riga’s impressive architecture and you'll notice plenty of secret signs related to the Knight Templars. These mostly Gothic masterpieces make excellent markers for our tour, giving a feel for the city’s Templar heritage.

The Dome Cathedral

This impressive house of worship, erected shortly after Bishop Albert founded Riga in 1201, is the biggest religious building in the Baltics.
Unfortunately, very little is known about the Cathedral’s initial stage of construction, but it is believed that it first started in 1211. Since then, the structure has undergone so many changes that today it is a combination of architectural styles.
No written evidence about the development of the Dome in 13th and 14th centuries survives, but it was enlarged at this time by building the western cross-nave and side chapels and elevating the side walls of the central nave, making the church into a basilica.
The oldest part of the cathedral is the altar, designed in the Romanesque manner. The Gothic style has left its traces in the architecture of the Basilica, while the 18th century spire is in the style of the Baroque. The tower was raised to its present height of 90 meters in 1776, an impressive measurement for buildings in those days.
The western entrance was built in the second part of the 19th century and has the features of a pseudo-Gothic style. The current height is just part of the real Dome; the Cathedral floor has been elevated 1.5 meters over the centuries. But underneath it are some impressive crypts.
Take time to explore the masterful Romanesque cross-vaulted gallery surrounding the old cemetery. Go inside the Cathedral to appreciate the stained glass depicting Biblical themes and local historical events. Pay close attention to them, as you will notice a knight there wearing a white tunic with a red cross...
There is another symbol in many Templar-built churches, that of the rose, the main element of the Gothic style. The core of the flower symbolizes the presence of God in the material world. You can see a huge round “rose” window over the main entrance to the cathedral on the western facade, and inside the church in the central nave, in the middle of the church, you will see a large rose-shaped stained-glass window, sparkling in rainbow colors.
One of legends of the underground treasures of Riga says: “It happened in Riga more than a hundred years ago. One autumn night, the old bellringer of the Dome met some people outside the church dressed in black and they asked for the keys to the church. “After a while the ringer finally agreed to open the door of cathedral. They then carefully blindfolded the old bellringer and took him into a tunnel with vaulted ceilings. There were scrolls of ancient parchments there and a huge trunk filled with jewels... “The ‘men in black’ gave him three gold coins for his trouble and released him. Later, he tried to reach this place again, but it was never found.”

Herdara Square 6. Open: Sat. – Thurs. 10.00-18.00, Fri. 10.00-17.00

 

Church of St Mary Magdalene

The wooden Church of St Mary Magdalene was built around 1260, during the reign of the German Bishop Albert as a place of worship for the women of the Cistercian Order – which is a key in this legend. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Cistercianmonks were connected with the medieval
Knights Templar through the powerful Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux – the same important powerful person who was instrumental in assisting the fledging Templar order with obtaining the necessary papal approval in 1128.
Since the number of Cistercian nuns was growing, they also needed their own land, suitable for building a monastery and a church. According to the official story, Magdalena, granddaughter of the Turaidabased Liv king Kaupo, donated money to the church for raising funds. That’s why the church was named after her holy protector. However, we also know that Mary Magdalene is the patron saint of the Knights Templar.
Due to the permanent flow of donations, and an increasing number of visitors and priests, the need for a bigger number of altars arose. Therefore, at the turn of the 15th century, the church was enlarged in the middle, the ceilings were elevated upwards, and underneath the church cellars were built for burying the dead.
Once inside pay a close attention to the ceilings and symbols on them. You will notice the Star of David – the inverted pyramid representing the grail or womb of Mary Magdalene and the pyramid a part of Christ. But in the center of the ceiling is a grand rose, always represented in Templar churches.
Interestingly, during archaeological excavations, the entrance to some mysterious underground tunnels was found right in the front of the church. The discovery was made in 1977 during reconstruction, but unfortunately the entrance to the tunnel was carelessly destroyed during the building process. But it is known that the width of the tunnel was around 80cm and the height about 135cm.

Klostera 2, Open daily: 6.30 – 20.00

 

Church of St Jacob

Catholic St Jacob’s is one of the oldest places of worship in Riga. It is the smallest cathedral in Old Riga, first mentioned in chronicles back in 1225. Initially, Cistercian sisters were housed there as they didn’t have their own church in Riga. It is known that St Jacob’s and the Dome Cathedral were built by the same Templar masters. Both structures have almost identical towers covered by symbolic niches and decorative features. Some say that some of the templar treasures from the Dome
Cathedral were moved to the area where the churches of St Jacob and St Mary Magdalene are located.
The building was given to the Military Catholic Order of Jesuits in 1582. There are links between the Jesuit Order and the Templar Order not only in rituals, but in principles as well. The church tower is 86 meters high – just few meters shorter than the Dome. There’s an old clock on the wall of the church, installed in 1480.
Interestingly, the tower of St Jacob’s is the only one in the city that has retained its original Gothic spire – a style once characteristic of all the other medieval churches of Riga. Another unique feature is that the tower has a place for its bell outside the tower. This bell somehow got the name “Bell of Wretched Sinners”. As legend has it, the bell was taken away at the request of discontented townspeople because it had the bad habit of ringing by itself, when any unfaithful wife went by. The story goes that the wives of Riga managed to persuade their husbands to remove the bell. Another version goes that it was removed, of course, because of the continuous noise it was making. The bell was taken away once again in 1915, to Russia, one of the last casualties in Riga of the tsarist occupation.


Jēkaba 9 (entrance from Klostera Street). Open daily: 07.30-18.00

 

The House of the Blackheads

After the defeat of the Knights Templar, the secret organization the Brotherhood of the Blackheads was created in 1334 emerged to express its defiant cry against the cruel end of the order. The proof of this assertion lay in the phrase inscribed on the gates of the building: “If I ever have to be destroyed, you will restore me again...”
The authorities understood this literally and the glorious Gothic building you see today was replicated in 2001 for Riga’s 800th anniversary.
However, in full accordance with the science of symbols, it also has a subtext: “While the idea of ruling the world is alive, ancient knowledge is immortal and it will arise from any disruption.”
There is evidence indicating that the Holy Grail was brought here from one of the countless Livonian castles. No wonder there’s another name for the house – “King Arthur’s Court”! Locals thought that the Blackheads, after reading stories about King Arthur played out the Knights of the Round Table there.
Notice Riga’s craft guilds were keeping their cups. Who would have thought that among the cups of the Blackheads guild the Holy Grail was hidden? In fact, the most difficult task is to find what is not hidden at all. The symbols on the front of the House of the Blackheads were carefully considered: a number of gods on the front and an explanatory “text” in the form of coats of arms had a deep meaning.
The House of the Blackheads was mythically well protected, surrounded by four of the most famous knights of Europe. In the square is Margrave of Brittany Roland, valiant soldier of the French King Charles the Great, and near the entrance to the building are saints Maurice and George. A pediment is crowned with a relief of King Arthur, who was considered a personage of honor by the Blackheads. Another secret is the two crossed keys in the latticed gate emblem above the entrance, a symbol with double connotations. In the times of Livonia, everyone knew that this was a symbol of the Pope. In fact, the crossed keys were also an ancient emblem of the two-faced god Janus who knew the secrets of life and death, the laws of the land and the sky.


Rātslaukums 7. Open: Tue.-Sun. 11.00-17.00.

Statue of Roland

The geometrical centre of Riga, as in any other Hanseatic League city, was once the tip of Roland’s sword, from which distances to all other cities, towns and villages were measured.
Roland was a popular legendary figure in medieval Europe. According to many legends,he was the nephew of Charlemagne, king of the Franks, who turned his life into an epic tale of the noble Christian slain by Islamic forces.
A statue of Roland, symbolizing freedom and justice, stands in Town Hall Square right in front of the House of the Blackheads. The original 6.3 meter-high statue that stood on Town Hall Square from 1896 was badly damaged during World War II and since then it has been kept in the safety of St Peter’s Church in the Old Town. However, there is written evidence that a wooden statue of Roland once existed before it, as early as 1413. It is also known that under the statue is a well – which could be the entrance to the underground tunnels.
Interestingly, there is another knight too, protecting underground Riga as well as Rolands. It is on the artesian well: the Golden Knight, in an inner yard of Valnu Street in the Old Town. Originally unveiled in 1897, it was restored to its former glory in 2005.

Authentic medieval restaurant Rozengrals

Vinarium Civitatis Rigensis.
You are highly recommended to delve beneath the city after seeing so many mythical signs and reading about the Riga underneath Riga. At the end of Rozen Street, Riga’s narrowest lane, is a fine medieval restaurant, situated in a cellar on the very site of the city’s original foundations.
This atmospheric venue will surprise you with its twisting labyrinths of vaulted brick passageways. This area was originally dug out in 1293. Everything from part of the original city walls (1201) to the old treated wooden floors, candlelit rooms and centuries- old menu is evocative of the Riga of yesteryear. All the rooms, including the banqueting hall adorned by coats of arms, swords and antiques, are lit by candles rather than electricity to maintain that traditional vibe.
Pride of place is the ancient well, dating back to 1293, which was at the time one of five in Riga. One of the underground passageways leads to where the original seaport would have been, when it was used to bring barrels of wine into the city. Vidvuds Bormanis, a leading historian from Riga’s History and Navigation Museum, agrees that this basement was once used as the city’s wine cellar, as fragments of wine pottery have been found here. Remembering that in 1307, a fleet of 17 ships with the Knights Templar treasures sailed out of La Rochelle, possibly bound for Riga, the old cellar is especially evocative. It’s not known whether the vessels carried gold or not, but this could well have been the way the Templars used to get from the port to the city. Perhaps the ancient well could be the secret key or gate that leads deeper and closer to the treasure...
Rozena 1. Open daily: 12.00-24.00

The Magic Bar

Believe it or not, there is a place in Riga where medieval magic exists. Behind the great wooden doors you will find surprises, magic tricks and an ancient elixir prepared following ancient Templar recipes. The tavern is lined with ancient books and alchemists’ equipment, talismans and old bottles of balzams. The basement display room can only be accessed by walking through a hidden door behind an inconspicuous bookshelf, and then down a dimly lit staircase with rope railings. You’ll be witness to the secretive process of producing the desired effects of the ancient Black Balsams, the taste of which many would compare to an old witch’s brew. However, the recipe comes from ancient knights’ Templar books. The recipe was discovered by Abraham Kunze, a pharmacist living in Riga, and using it he made a composition of 24 different ingredients including plants, flowers, buds, juices, roots, oils and berries prepared in oak barrels.
Initially it was named Kunzes Balsam. The drink itself is black and very bitter, but with a distinct sweetness. But that’s not all about this place – the ground floor is connected to many underground tunnels filled with ancient secrets and treasures...


The Magic Bar, Kaļķu 10, G-3, Tel: 6722 2877. Open daily: 10:00-01:00.

Axel 11.11.2009 13:16

I can not believe it true. but looks true. Dan Brown should retire now :)

Reply

C 13.11.2009 10:11

This is total bullshit, which is written here. Historical mistake on other historical mistake!
Riga has nothing common with templars. Whole medieval Livonia was under Rule of German order (Deutscher Orden). Templars was
french order, German order - was german order. There is no any evidence, that there would be present any of templars. Since
conquering of the land by germans this is german country by culture and history. Nothing common with french.
I'm just wondering how they could write this

Reply

to C 16.11.2009 11:37

You seemed to be very GERRRMAN.
The reality is that Livonian order, formed by Sword Knights arrived here by the order of Roman Pope
And the truth is that Livonian order had so many symbols so close to templars (clothing, rulez, etc) that the assumptions
done in the article are fair enough. How come then that POOR GERRRMAN order suddenly in the beginnin of 14th century has
build so many magnificient building and churches ? So Mr.C - live is not that simple!
Andrew

Reply

C - to Andrew 17.11.2009 14:12

Yes, I'm very GERRRMAN. And I'm proud to be very GERRRMAN. You must though carefully study local history, before you write
something about historical issues. Real founder of Order of Sword Knights was bishop Albert, statute of Order was approved
and established with resolution of the Pope, certainly. It is truth, that there are some common thing with templars, but
Sword Knights Order ceased existence in 1237, after he was defeated in the battle by Saule in 1236. Because this order was to
weak to

Reply

Outlook 20.11.2009 11:14

After collapsing of Livonian Order in 1561 Kuldiga became the residence of Duke Jakob and from 1587 till 1671 it was the
capital of Courland. During the reign of Duke Jakob the Duchy of Courland and Kuldiga experienced the economic boom, but
does anyone know where did they get money? to build and operate a ship building factory, a saltpetre mill and brick-kilns,
etc. More interesting is that Jacob established the merchant fleet of the Duchy of Courland, with its main harbours in
Venstpils and

Reply

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