Supporting The Restoration Of The Nativity Of Christ Cathedral


The Restoration of the Riga Cathedral of the Birth of Christ


The reconstruction project of the Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral, "SVET", was started in 2002 on the initiative of Guntis Rāvis and "Skonto Būve". The knowledge, work and considerable donations that "Skonto Būve" put into the project in completely renovating the cathedral, allowed for the rebirth of one of the most beautiful buildings of cultural significance in central Riga. That the building was not damaged in the Soviet times is a miracle. This is why "SVET” is a project of European and even global significance, unique in its culturally historical, socially political and spiritual aspects.

Guntis Rāvis sees “SVET” as a calling and is thankful for being given the chance to realise this kind of project during his lifetime: “Reconstructing the Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral is something I do from the heart. Nobody asked me to, and I did not start this to be praised by society. It was a personal revelation, the state of my soul. I turned to Metropolitan Aleksandrs with this idea eleven years ago, and he gave it his blessing.”

The first part of the project “SVET” was started in 2005 and included the renovation of the church’s facade, finishing the unique wall paintings inside the cathedral, as well as painting the back wall of the cathedral, which had never been painted until then, according to tradition and the highest quality requirements. In 2011 another part of the project saw the gilding of the cathedral’s bell tower and the construction of a completely new cross, 80 kg in weight and 2 metres high, which was also gilded later under the supervision of experienced masters in the “Skonto Plan” factory. The initial idea of Roberts Pflūgs, the architect of the Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral, was carried out in 2014: the central dome of the cathedral was gilded as the final part of the project “SVET”. The dome’s 400 square metres were covered in 980-carat gold, using 57 740 little leaves of gold.

The Metropolitan of Riga and the whole of Latvia, Aleksandrs, is satisfied with what has been done using common effort and points out: “The rebirth of the Nativity of Christ Cathedral is an affirmation of our power, our faith and our love. Every passer-by rejoices in the dome of the bell tower, shining gold and reminding us of our mission “You are the light of the world!” I am very grateful to the project’s patron Guntis Rāvis, not only for the donated funding, but also for his initiative to manage the restoration process of the cathedral.”

Riga Rooster Christmas tree – a present for the city


In honouring Riga as the birthplace of the Christmas tree, the company Skonto Būve has been giving Riga, its residents and visitors a Christmas tree each year since 2008, placing it in the very centre of Riga – at the intersection of Elizabetes Street and Brīvības Boulevard.

From year to year the decoration themes vary, but for several years now a stable value has been the Riga rooster at the top of the Christmas tree, thus giving the tree its name – “Riga Rooster Christmas tree”.

As appreciation for creating a festive atmosphere for residents and visitors of Riga, each year Skonto Būve Ltd. receives a letter of gratitude from Riga City Council. It represents appreciation for the company’s contribution to the aesthetic improvement of the Riga urban environment and involvement in the project “Riga’s way through Christmas”.

Guntis Rāvis and Nils Ušakovs Commemorate the Commencement of the Cathedral Cupola Gold-plating with a Memorial Plaque


Gold-plating of the Riga Nativity Orthodox Cathedral bell tower cupola has been commenced within the largest campaign for renovation of cultural monuments implemented in Latvia “SVET”. Commencing this, the initiator and patron of the campaign “SVET” Guntis Rāvis and Lord Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs gold-plated a special memorial plaque which will remind future generations of the day when gold-plating of the cupola was first commenced.

The memorial plaque featuring the symbol of SVET campaign and the bequest “Let the Cathedral light shine forth!” will be visible to visitors of the Cathedral and will continue to urge everyone to support the purposes of the Cathedral renovation initiated by “SVET”.

“The participation of every person is a significant support in the Cathedral renovation and restoration, and hopefully we shall be able to gold-plate all cupolas of the Cathedral at some time in the future” said the initiator and patron of the campaign “SVET” Guntis Rāvis while commencing the gold-plating.

Gold-plating of the cupola will be performed by experienced specialists who will cover the 80 square metre bell tower cupola and its cross with the finest 980 carat gold. The gold-plating procedure will be managed by one of the few restoration Old Masters in Latvia, Gazis Habibuļins. He admits that gilding is not only the prettiest, but also the most durable cupola cover which does not rust or oxidise for a very long time – it won’t be necessary to renew it for the next 40-50 years. It is planned that the gold-plating works will be completed and the cupola will be open to the eyes of the public in this autumn.

Support of the initiator and patron of the campaign “SVET”, Chairman of the Board of LLC “Skonto Būve” Guntis Rāvis has helped to completely re-build and gold-plate also the bell tower cupola cross which has been endorsed by Alexander, Metropolitan of Riga and whole Latvia.

“Cupola gold-plating is an expressly Orthodox tradition. Gold, in the first place, is a symbol of eternity, sanctity, power and heavenly glory. The gold-plated cupolas of churches remind of the spiritual fight, while the bright cupola tops address the people like the flame of a candle by saying: ‘You are the light of the world!’” said Alexander, Metropolitan of Riga and whole Latvia, greeting the commencement of cupola gold-plating.

Cathedral receives gold donation from Guntis Rāvis, patron of the SVET project


Metropolitan of Riga and all of Latvia, Aleksandrs has received a donation of top-quality 980-proof gold for the gilding of the bell tower cupola of Riga Nativity Orthodox Cathedral. This donation by Guntis Rāvis, the patron of the SVET project, marks the next and final stage in renovating the bell tower cupola.

Currently, the cupola of the cathedral is covered by scaffolding behind which careful work is being performed to prepare the scaled tin surface, cross cap and also the cross itself for gilding. According to the renovation plan, metal ribs that were once put on top of the cupola will be removed, and the original smooth shape of the cupola will be restored. In addition, the cross cap of the bell tower will receive a new tin decoration identical to the one on the cross caps on the Cathedral’s small cupolas. Renovation of the base of the existing cupola requires detailed and precise calculations as well as serious and professional work.

The gilding of the cupola will be performed using an old and traditional gilding technology, which involves the use of golden sheets. The sheets are covered only with a very thin layer of gold dust, so the gilding works must be performed in specific conditions of air flow and temperature, and they require highly qualified and experienced specialists.

When thanking Guntis Rāvis for his support of renovating the Cathedral, metropolitan Aleksandrs said: “The gilding of cupolas is a characteristic orthodox tradition. Gold is the symbol of eternity, imperishableness, might and heavenly glory. Gilded copulas of churches remind us of the holy army and spiritual battle, while the curved tops of the cupolas, shaped like the flame of a candle, speak to the people saying: “You are the light of the world!””.

“It is planned that the cupola will shine in gold as early as this September, and no renovation will be necessary for at least 30 years,” informed Guntis Rāvis, the patron of the SVET project and Chairman of the Board of Skonto Būve Ltd. He added that in implementing the SVET project, “every Lat donated by each resident and support by each partner is important.”