The Freedom Monument

The Freedom Monument rises in the centre of Rīga, the capital of Latvia, on Brīvības Boulevard near the old town of Rīga. It was built to honour soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence, but these days it is considered an important symbol of sovereignty of Latvia, the unity, independence and freedom of the Latvian people. 

  • The Freedom Monument
  • Photo: Artis Rams
  • The Freedom Monument
  • Photo: Artis Rams
  • The Freedom Monument

The monument, unveiled in 1935, is 42 metres high and sculpted of grey and red granite, travertine, reinforced concrete and copper.

The sculptures and bas-reliefs of the monument, arranged in thirteen groups, depict Latvian culture and history. The core of the monument is composed of massive tetragonal shapes on top of each other, decreasing in size towards the top, completed by a 19-metre high travertine column bearing the copper figure of Liberty – a young woman lifting three gilded stars.

The concept for the monument to commemorate the Latvian War of Independence first emerged in the early 1920s when the Latvian Prime Minister Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics ordered rules to be drawn up for the design contest to build a "memorial column". After several contests the design "Shine like a star!" submitted by Latvian sculptor Kārlis Zāle was approved. Construction began in 1931 and was financed by private donations.  

After the World War II, Latvia was annexed by the USSR and the Freedom Monument was considered for dismantling. Soviet sculptor Vera Mukhina, a pupil of Kārlis Zāle, is credited with rescuing the monument: she recognised the artistic value of the monument the demolition of which might hurt the most sacred feelings of the Latvian people. Although the monument was not dismantled, its symbolism was reinterpreted to better fit with Communist ideology. Nevertheless, the Freedom Monument remained a symbol of national independence to the general public. Indeed, on June 14, 1987, three years before the restoration of Latvia’s independence, the first anti-Soviet rally gathering about 5,000 people took place at the monument: the Helsinki-86 group organised a flower-laying ceremony to commemorate victims of Soviet deportations.

56.951435, 24.113239
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    Brīvības bulvāris (pie Vecrīgas), Rīga, LV-1050
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Last updated: 09.09.2014