The outside of the cathedral is impressive to say the least, despite the rather humorous picture of the old dome being used to cover the construction of the new one. With an exterior appearing as if it were made of golden Lego-bricks, the main Orthodox church of Riga is exactly what you would expect in a modern Orthodox church: grande, golden, and misogynistic.
Once inside, one is immediately presented with the sign "no skirts or ladies' shorts" directly to one side of the typical romantically unrealistic representation of Iēsous - and no prize to whoever guesses what was on his other side: a donation box by the door guarded by a priestess. I should have known.
The main hall is large and pleasant to look at. That is, if you manage to see much of it before the dirty stares at any women in your group intimidate you into leaving. Our group of ten had seven male visitors and three female: two of which were wearing trousers, the third a knee-length dress with opaque grey tights. Despite this, we were greeted with hostility by other visitors until one of the matrons approached one (male) of our group and asked us to leave unless "the women cover their hair." Philosophical debates put aside, this was little short of pathetic, anachronistic, gynophobic abuse by the staff of an otherwise pleasant attraction.
I returned the next day, alone, and was greeted with a welcoming smile. How interesting that the servants of god in this cathedral are so particular with whom they welcome into what they consider their sacred ground. As is usual in European cathedrals, the "no cameras" rule was being flouted by the majority of guests; so as long as one turns the flash off it should be fine to take photographs, provided one is either male or has no provocative ankles/ears on show.
Oh, and whilst I explored the large and fascinating hall on my return visit, guess what I noticed to one side of the main altar? Another donation box. Ha, as if they need the money.
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