Russian Orthodox

Russian Orthodox faith is followed by 18%-22% of Latvia’s inhabitants, mostly Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian minorities in the cities and Latgale.

Neo-Byzanthine Russian Orthodox Nativity Cathedral in Riga
Russian Orthodox Nativity Cathedral in Riga. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Russian Orthodox churches tend to be domed and have square gold colored interiors. Most of the inscriptions and events there are in Russian as nearly every Latvia’s Orthodox speaks Russian natively.

Russian Orthodox faith first gained importance in Latvia when Latvia was conquered by Russia in the 18th century. Russian settlers, soldiers and officials had churches funded for them by the state as the Orthodox church was considered a key basis of the Empire and its culture.

Russian Orthodox church in Stameriena village built in 1904 when Latvia was still under Russian rule
Russian Orthodox church in Stameriena built in 1904 when Latvia was still under Russian rule. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

The numbers of Orthodox adherents swelled together with Soviet colonization of Latvia as many Russophones were sent into Latvian cities. While religious life was shunned at the time and no new churches were built, after independence the Orthodox religion rebounded as many Russophones rediscovered the faith of their forefathers.

New orthodox church constructed post-1990 in Daugavpils Soviet district
New orthodox church constructed in post-1990 Daugavpils Soviet district. All new Orthodox churches generally follow the old styles. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

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