Sibling Rivalry: The Three Brothers
From the title, your first thought might go to “The Tales of Beetle the Bard: The Deathly Hallows” from Harry Potter. I know mine did(: The title “The Three Brothers” though actually refers to some of the most iconic buildings in Old Town Riga, a set of three dwelling homes located at addresses 17, 19 and 21 Maza Pils St. near the Catholic Cathedral “Jekaba Katedrale” or St. James’s Cathedral. All three dwellings are connected inside, and while different, also share subtle similarities that resemble a set of siblings. While their faces and outward appearances may be alike, the inherent emotions, characters and subtle features of each sibling make them profoundly unique.
Like the typical oldest sibling, No. 17 (the building situated on the right, and built in the 15th century) is prominent and distinguished, with authority and seriousness in his demeanor. In many ways, he sets an example in appearance for his two younger siblings. Characterized by crow-stepped gables on top, small and simple Gothic decorations on the door frame and columns above, and a few scattered Renaissance ornamentations, he is recognizable even from afar. Originally the building consisted of one large room and an attic above, but now has two floors with a wooden interior. Inside is housed the Latvian Musem of Architecture. It was restored in 1957.
The much more elaborate and gaudy No. 19 fits the middle child stereotype perfectly. Desperate to prove himself and eager to gain parental approval, he is much more beautifully decorated than his elder in a semi-Dutch mannerism style from the 17th century. This is seen through the effortless and simple decoration on the outside. With inset white bricks against the yellow exterior, a curving, delicate roof and almost countryhome-like windows inset throughout, it is the most intricate of the three homes. The stone portal was added in 1746.
The third brother, or the green house at No. 21 is obviously the baby of the family. Both younger, shorter and smaller in volume than his counterparts, this 18th century home features an impressive baroque curved-pediment roof outline, designed more for grandeur than efficiency. A wooden staircase in the first room leads to a set of offices that spread throughout the three buildings. While not as impressive as the other two, he holds his own place in the view.
For anybody looking for great architecture, the Three Brothers is a must-see. More than that, maybe looking at it will help you understand your siblings better(:
Mark Kennedy, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Riga.