Riga, Latvia - Monuments

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(click to enlarge) Riga has a large and lively central market. Looming in the background is the Soviet-era Academy of Sciences building in familiar Stalinist skyscraper style. According to the Wikipedia article on "Latvian Academy of Sciences",

"The Academy of Sciences edifice was built after World War II, between 1953 and 1956, as a gift from the workers and peasants of the other Soviet republics to the Latvian people and also to mark the borders of Stalin's empire, and is appropriately decorated with several hammers and sickles as well as Latvian folk ornaments . Most Latvians consider themselves lucky that the giant portrait of Stalin that was supposed to be a part of the facade never came to fruition. Being 108 metres (353 ft) tall, it was the first skyscraper in the republic and was the tallest building until the construction of the Hansabanka Central Office (121m or 396ft), and at the time, one of the highest reinforced concrete buildings in the world.

The building, designed by Lev Rudnev, is a cousin to similar Stalin-era skyscrapers, which were representative of what became known as Stalinist architecture (sometimes referred to as Stalin's Empire style or Socialist Classicism). The architecture of the skyscraper resembles many others built in the Soviet Union at the time, most notably the main building of Moscow State University. Local nicknames for this building include Stalin's birthday cake and the Kremlin."

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(click to enlarge) The Statue of Liberty Freedom Monument. According to a web site about the monument,

http://www.endex.com/gf/buildings/liberty/worldstatues/SOLRiga/solriga.htm ,

"This monument is located in downtown Riga, Latvia, Brìvìbas street, dedicated "To Fatherland and Freedom".

The Monument was executed by Kârlis Zâle (1888-1942), a well-known Latvian sculptor. Ernests Shtalbergs was the architect . The 42 meter high monument is topped by a Liberty Statue - a woman with three stars symbolizing regional parts of Latvia: Kurzeme, Vidzeme and Latgale. At the base of the monument are several sculptural groups symbolizing different values - Labor, Strength of the Nation, Spiritual Strength, Freedom, Family; relief on the lowest block represents historical events.

The Freedom Monument was unveiled in 1935 during Latvia's brief period of independence between the wars. Known locally as Milda, it was a powerful symbol of anti-Soviet resistance serving as the focus of gatherings in the late 1980's during early stages of the drive for independence. It is puzzling why the Soviets did not tear it down, but certainly the natives' predictable wrath was a deterent. Now it is a shrine to national independence.

People still bring flowers to the monument which are tended to by the city's elderly women. During the Soviet era, a running joke, not completely untrue, was that the monument was a travel agency, because anyone who dared place flowers at its base got a free, one-way ticket to faraway Siberia. "

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Victor Bloomfield published on October 30, 2009 2:04 PM.

Riga, Latvia - Geometries was the previous entry in this blog.

Riga, Latvia - Central Market is the next entry in this blog.

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