Execution in the Old Town

In January 1695, the priest, Elias Christian Panicke, entered the ‘Riga’ Tavern in the corner of the Town Hall Square, sat at the bar and ordered an ale. When the drink was served, he took one sip and then immediately threw the ale to the floor in disgust; the drink was warm. He demanded another beverage to replace the drink that had just been wasted – the bar maid obliged.

After taking a sip of this second beer, the priest was outraged to find the drink was, once again, warm. In his state of rage, he threw the ceramic tankard at the barmaid who fell, cracked her skull on the bar and died.

The customers were so shocked and upset by what they had witnessed that they dragged the priest outside into the square while one of them went to the Town Hall asking for a warrant to kill this man for what he had done. Given that the crowd would most likely linch the priest anyway the Town Hall granted this request and Elias Christian Panicke was beheaded then and there in the Town Hall Square.

During the winter, when the terraces have been removed, it is possible to catch a glimpse of a letter ‘L’ set into the ground. This marks the spot where the priest fell; the only time there has been an execution within the walls of The Old Town.


3 thoughts on “Execution in the Old Town

  1. Tina Talistu Basler Reply

    Hi TomTom – what does it mean – when you say, in the winter when the “terraces have been removed.” Just curious.

    1. tomtonks Reply

      Oh yes, sorry, I should have elaborated on that point. In the summer, many of the restaurants and bars in the Old Town build small wooden terraces on the streets so customers can sit and eat/drink outside in the sunshine.

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