The Freedom Monument is located on Brīvības bulvāris (Freedom Boulevard), near the old town of Riga. It was erected in 1935, on the site where a statue of Russian ruler Peter the Great once stood.
The monument was built using funds donated by the residents of Riga. It stands as a memorial to honor soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence (1918 – 1920).
Standing 43 meters (141 feet) high, the monument’s granite base is topped with a copper figure of Liberty lifting three gilded stars. There are four levels, with 56 sculptures depicting Latvian history and culture. An inscription at the base of the monument reads, “For the Fatherland and Freedom.”
Following the Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940, the Freedom Monument was considered for demolition. However, the Soviet authorities were concerned that destruction of the monument would cause tension amongst the Latvian people. Therefore, the Freedom Monument remained, but its symbolism was reinterpreted. The three stars were said to now stand for the newly created Baltic Soviet Republics (Estonian SSR, Latvian SSR and Lithuanian SSR) held aloft by Mother Russia.
During the Soviet occupation, any gathering near the Freedom Monument was strictly forbidden. However, independence rallies centered around the monument towards the end of the 1980s and the dissolution of the Soviet Union on May 4, 1990, resulted in Latvia regaining independence.
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A two-man honour guard from the National Armed Forces stand at the base of the monument. Normally the guards change every hour between 9am and 6pm, though they are not present during bad weather.
The memorial is still often a focal point of public gatherings and official ceremonies in Riga.