The Cat House in Riga, Latvia was built for someone who may not have cared for cats but who definitely DID care about being snubbed.
The Cat House (Kaķu Nams, in local parlance) can be found in the historic old town district of Riga, capital city of Latvia. You'll know it when you've found it: no other building features twin “witch's hat” turreted towers topped with a bronze cat!
City records state the ornate, Art Nouveau-esque high-rise was built in 1909 following blueprints composed by renowned architect Friedrich Scheffel. At that time, Latvia was part of the Russian Empire and Riga was a bustling seaport. Most of the city's wealthier merchants belonged to the Riga Tradesman's Guild – known as the Great Guild.
One particular merchant was rich enough to build an ornate residence right across the street from the Great Guild's headquarters. Legend has it, however, that this merchant was widely disliked and his applications for membership in the Great Guild were refused time and time again.
The ostracized and offended merchant hit upon a unique form of revenge: he commissioned a local metal smith to sculpt two bronze cats. The figures were expressly made with body language expressing anger, with arched backs and raised tails.
The finishing touch was to mount the two cat sculptures facing AWAY from the house of the Great Guild, thus displaying the utmost of contempt towards those who worked inside. The latter, as might be expected, were furious with their neighbor and mounted a succession of legal challenges to get him to remove the cats... all of them failed.
Faced with such a public display of defiance on a daily basis, the members of the Great Guild eventually gave in and offered membership to the owner of the Cat House in exchange for removing the double-barreled insult. A winner to the end, the mollified merchant simply had the cats swiveled 180-degrees, thus ceasing the offense yet reminding all and sundry of his victory. (via Kuriositas, images via f0rtytw0)