Hidden Shortcut

 

Archway for Convent Courtyard

The walk to our most-visited grocery store takes us through the streets of Old Riga. When we first moved here more than a year ago, we always strolled on the the cobble-stoned streets to get there. Then we found a shortcut through the middle of a block. Spotting an arch that was labeled "Konventa Seta," we decided to enter and see where it led. After walking through the archway, we walked into ancient history. 


Upon doing some research, I found out that this Convent Courtyard was originally built in the 13th Century as a courtyard to the Order of the Sword's Castle. It has been reconstructed many times since then, but the original walls were built in the 1240s. It was a courtyard that connected St. George's Church with the rest of the original castle. 

St. George's Chapel



St. George's Church today is the Museum of Decorative Arts and Designs. The outside walls are all that remains of the chapel used by the Knights of the Brothers of the Sword. 


Small shop in courtyard


Upon venturing into the archway, we saw several buildings and small alleyways. Today this Convent courtyard holds a hotel, museum of porcelain, antique shops and cafes. 

Former walls of the convent





When the Order of the Sword decided to construct a new residence for them in the 1330s, this space in the old castle was given to the Convent of the Holy Spirit. The nuns opened an orphanage for children on the site, thus the name Convent Courtyard.


Alleyway in court

 


Tunnel to exit the Courtyard 
In 1554, the Convent also became a shelter for widows, thus more houses were built in the compound. From that time the walls protected the widows and orphans, as well as the "gray sisters," the name used to identify the nuns. 



Today, we find it convenient to use as a shortcut through the tunnel on the opposite end because the courtyard is paved like a sidewalk instead of ancient cobblestones. It's also a great place to try to stay dry if it's pouring rain outside. 


A locked gate




The labyrinth of alleyways has several gates of access from the Konventa Seta. It would be interesting to actually wander around behind the locked gates and see how they link up with the Courtyard that we are allowed to walk through. 



Information taken from The Convent Court



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