Rare opportunity to visit St. Meinhard's island by foot

Take note – story published 6 years ago

As the Riga Hydroelectric Power Station has lowered water levels, locals and tourists have a rare opportunity to walk rather than take a boat to the Ikšķile church ruins, located on St. Meinhard's island on Daugava River. The church may be called the place where Christianity began in Latvia. 

Usually accessible only by ferry or boat, the church, dating back to the late 12th century, is for a short time connected to the mainland via gravel roads usually submerged under water. Water levels will remain lowered from August 15 to September 30. 

The church was built by Germany's Saint Meinhard who traveled with merchants to Livonia on a Catholic mission to convert the peoples living in what is now Latvia to Christianity. He settled in Ikšķile and began building the church in 1184. 

Until the foundation of Riga in 1201 the church was the seat of the Bishop of Livonia. It was thoroughly rebuilt from 1879 - 1881, destroyed in 1916 and damaged in the second world war. 

With the construction of the Riga Hydroelectric Power Plant in the 1970s, an artificial island was erected to prevent water from flooding the ruins. 

A 10-meter cross and a stone altar were erected on the island after Latvia regained independence. For the purpose of conservation the ruins were covered with metal in 2002.

Read more about the ruins and how to get there on Latvia's official tourism website.

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