The House of the Blackheads has for almost 700 years been delighting Riga residents and guests. This is one of the most colorful buildings in Riga, which contains a very unique historical legacy about the legendary brotherhood of the Blackheads, as well as the history of the Latvian capital. The House of the Blackheads, originally called the New House, was built in 1334.
The Colorful House of the Blackheads
1. The History
Once you get the House of the Blackheads tickets, you will be able to learn about it more. The building was constructed in 1334 as a part of Riga's Town Hall Square ensemble. Historically, the building's function was to promote business activities in the city – it was a place for gathering of traders and shippers for many centuries. It was the building which basically maintained the city's economic lifeline, as well as trade links with partners in the West and the East. The soul of the House of the Blackheads was its active and joyful 'blackheads', who, as young and unmarried traders, were known for their temperament and enthusiasm for the organization of various celebrations and events. Their enthusiasm transformed this building into one of the main cultural venues in the city, which set the pulse of Riga's societal scene. The House of the Blackheads was the cultural epicenter of Riga for centuries, as the blackheads and their successors always gathered the cream of the crop of Riga's societal scene at their events.
2. The Collections
After purchasing the House of the Blackheads tickets, take a look at the works of its artisans, craftsmen and antique restorers. These include crystal chandeliers, the painted ceiling of the Conference Hall, the exact replicas of 19th century chairs and sofas, weaponry and armor sets, portraits of the nobility in gilded frames, stained glass with colorful ornamentation, the Blackheads' Coat of Arms and girandoles. You can also inspect the museum's treasures at the Medieval cellar, see the items that once belonged to the Brotherhood of Blackheads: snuffboxes, silverware, paintings and pottery, and explore not only the oldest historical exhibits but also those from more recent times during your House of the Blackheads tour.
3. Other Things To Do
Don't miss to admire the opulent facade of the House of the Blackheads featuring various architectural styles and artistic trends of various periods. With the House of the Blackheads tickets, you will be able to take a tour of the House and picture in your imagination the receptions and concerts that were held at the sumptuous Conference Hall during the times of the Blackheads Society. Also, you can attend festive events which in the interiors of House of the Blackheads will have a special aura and a truly festive atmosphere. Last but not least, see the replica of the Statue of Roland, symbol of the Medieval Hanseatic cities, with the original located in St. Peter's Church.
4. Halls and Composer's Gallery
The magnificent Assembly hall and the splendid Lubeck hall, along with the composers' gallery. In detailed carved wooden frames, paintings of kings and rulers from the past have witnessed countless concerts of local artists. A masterpiece of ornamental and monumental art is depicted on the ceiling – 'Apotheosis of St. Maurice”. Next to the halls there is a gallery with busts of eight foreign and four Latvian composers. They remind us of how much the Black heads loved art and the music that was played here. From the year 1837 to 1839 the German composer Richard Wagner lived and organised concerts in Riga and has left an indelible mark on Latvian musical development. It is a must to visit this area on your House of the Blackheads tour.
5. Historical Cabinets
The historical cabinets of the Black Heads House are representing the 19th century interior. Day by day meetings, important decision-making and bookkeeping were held here. A collection of sophisticated tobacco boxes, and the once largest collection of refined silverware in the Baltics can also be seen in the cabinets. During Presidents castle renovation from 2012 to 2016 leader of the Country worked here. You can access this area with your House of the Blackheads tickets.
6. Historical Cellar
A historically original part of the house that was built in 1334. Cellar was used by merchants as a storage place. Wine supplies and other trading goods were stored here – grain, leather, linen, honey, wax and much more. A hypocaust or hot air stove was installed here to provide heating during the cold winter months, which is open for viewing. Now you have the chance to get to know the history of the Black Heads house and the brotherhood. Informative activities make it easy to get familiar with the characteristics and elements of the house. It is worth a visit during your House of the Blackheads tour.
How to Get Tickets?
House of the Blackheads tickets can be purchased at the ticket office when you arrive. The tickets cost EUR 6 for adults and EUR 3 for children, students, and seniors. If you go with your family, it is recommended to buy the family tickets. Groups of 10 people get a discount of EUR 1 per ticket, while disabled persons and their accompanying person don't have to pay to enter the house. Don't forget to bring your valid identification or ISIC card at the counter.
How To Get Around?
The House of the Blackheads tour can be done by walking. The building is accessible by wheelchair and disabled friendly. Please take your time to stop and admire the collections.
What Should I Wear?
There is no dress code at House of the Blackheads, you can wear whatever you want to do the House of the Blackheads tour.
Best Time to Visit
You can do the House of the Blackheads tour at any time of the year. The House of the Blackheads is open to the public from Tuesdays to Sundays between 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with the final visitors being allowed to access to building until 5:00 p.m.
Will I Need a Guide?
No, you can find informations needed to visit the house on this website. However, if you want to learn about the history and get to know the place better, you can hire a tour guide by purchasing the House of the Blackheads tickets with a guided tour for EUR 15. The guided tour is available in Latvian, English, German, and Russian.
How To Get There?
Riga has 8 tram lines, 17 trolleybus routes and 56 bus routes that operate from as early as 05:00 to as late as 01:00, depending on the route. You can buy €1.15 tickets at designated Riga Transport (Rīgas Satiksme) ticket offices, at public transport ticket machines or at Narvesen newsstands, post offices and Rimi supermarkets. You can also buy a ticket from the driver (on old trams) but it will cost you €2. You can buy these tickets and get to House of the Blackheads easily. You can also take a mikroautbuss or mikriņš, passenger vans that list their destinations and route numbers on their windscreens. They are a scourge to urban transit as they'll basically stop anywhere along their routes to pick up or drop off passengers causing delays and traffic jams. Pay the driver the fare, which varies depending on the route.
You are allowed to take pictures inside the house. It's advised to not bring a big bag with you to make it easier for you to explore the house. You should always keep an eye on your belongings.