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Melngalvju nams (The House of Blackheads), the impressive Gothic treasure of Riga, was first mentioned in 1334 as a building owned by the Great Guild and the place for public gatherings. In the 15th-century Blackheads – an organization of unmarried foreign merchants rented it and later, in 1713 became its owner. The name of the brotherhood comes from St. Mauritius – imagery African moor whom they chose to be their patron. Due to the high social position the brotherhood had their headquarters became the center of all sorts of cultural events to which even Russian tsars were invited. It was also used as a concert hall and was visited by such musicians as Wagner and List. As a German merchant club the Brotherhood of Blackheads existed in Riga until 1939. Destroyed in 1941, it was rebuilt in 2001.There is a museum and a concert hall in the building today.
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.