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2014 | 17 | 36-45

Article title

Kultūras mantojums un politiskā ideoloģija: Rīgas Māras baznīcas izdaiļošanas projekts. 20. gadsimta 30. gadi


Title variants

Cultural Heritage and Political Ideology: Rīga Māra’s Church Decoration Project. The 1930s

Languages of publication



The article deals with the political and ideological conditions in the early 1930s that encouraged the eviction of the Riga Dom Cathedral’s German congregation, renaming the church as Māra’s Church and the elaboration of a project to give the building a Latvian character. The political situation after World War I and the power vacuum in the Eastern Baltic region created favourable conditions for the foundation of an independent state and shake off the dominant German and Russian influences. Initially the state institutions did not interfere in art processes. However, quite early on, an increasing tendency emerged to extol the significance of Latvian national identity as opposed to the contribution of other ethnic groups to the local culture. This attitude rapidly consolidated in the 1930s and had a negative effect on the current art, architecture and cultural heritage. Latvian national self-esteem grew incompatible with the city’s largest church belonging to a German congregation. The renaming of the church allows us to follow this process. German historians of architecture called it St. Mary’s Dom Cathedral (Der Dom zu St. Marien) while already since 1923, the Latvian press of the day began to call it after the pagan deity Māra. The next step to strengthen national self-consciousness and search for national identity was a press announcement that the interior of Māra’s Church had to be given a Latvian appearance. Information on the competition is scarce. Only one applicant is known whose submission was published in the magazine ‘Atpūta’ (Leisure) on 17 November 1933. The main author of the sketches was Professor Jānis Kuga of the Latvian Academy of Art. The artist has attempted to follow the instructions set down by the commission, synthesising religious symbols with themes from the history of Latvia. However, the ambitious plan of the Latvianised Dom turned out to be too much in discord with the status of the medieval monument and was never realised.


  • Institute of Art History, Latvian Academy of Art


Document Type

Publication order reference


YADDA identifier

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