The House of Blackheads (Melngalvju nams) is the most significant focus of the ensemble of the Town Hall Square. In the 15th century it was leased out to the fraternity of Blackheads, whos Patron was the dark-skinned St. Maurice. In documents the House of Blackheads was mentioned for the first time in 1334 (as a New House of Big Guild), obviously it served as a common place of meetings and festivals. In the late 15th century it was leased out to the Blackheads (the fraternity of young unmarried foreign merchants, who temporarily lived in Riga and didn’t become burghers. The Patron of the Fraternity was the dark-skinned St. Maurice, his symbol – a black head – was incorporated into the emblem of the fraternity). In 1713 the House became their property and was named as the House of Blackheads. The building was completely destroyed by bombing during World War II. Its restoration began after attainment of independence in 1991 and was completed in 2000.
Originated from a small fishermen village, for centuries Riga has been an important part of the trade chain between Russia and Western Europe. A lively crossroad of cultures and backgrounds for over 800 years, the historical centre of Riga has accumulated an impressive cultural baggage and today is justly included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage list.