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Brivibas piemineklis

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Hidden : 02/12/2010
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Geocache Description:

Riga The Freedom Monument.
The monument was built between 1931 and 1935 during the first independence of Latvia to commemorate the Latvian soldiers killed in the Latvian Independence War (1918-1920).

I have only once been in Riga for several days, it is a beautiful city especially the freedom monument on the square of freedom makes a big impression on me. To learn more about this monument, I made this earth cache. (Source Wikipedia.)

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 ?????, 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.

Following Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940 Latvia was annexed by the Soviet Union and the Freedom Monument was considered for demolition, but no such move was carried out. Soviet sculptor Vera Mukhina (who was born in Riga and had been pupil of Karlis Zale) is sometimes credited with the rescue of the monument, possibly because she considered it to be of the highest artistic value. Soviet propaganda attempted to alter the symbolic meaning of the monument to better fit with Communist ideology, but it remained a symbol of national independence to the general public. Indeed, on June 14, 1987 about 5,000 people gathered at the monument to commemorate the victims of the Soviet regime and to lay flowers. This rally renewed the national independence movement, which culminated three years later in the re-establishment of Latvian sovereignty after the fall of the Soviet regime.


The sculptures and bas-reliefs of the Freedom Monument, arranged in thirteen groups, depict Latvian culture and history. The core of the monument is composed of tetragonal shapes on top of each other, decreasing in size towards the top. A red granite staircase of ten steps, 1.8 metres in height, winds around the base of the monument between two travertine reliefs 1.7 metres high and 4.5 metres wide, "Latvian riflemen" and "Latvian people: the Singers", which decorate its 3 metres thick sides. Two additional steps form a round platform, which is 28 metres in diameter, on which the whole monument stands. At the front of the monument this platform forms a rectangle, which is used for ceremonial proposes. The base of the monument, also made of red granite, is formed by two rectangular blocks: the lower one is a monolithic 3.5 metres high, 9.2 metres wide and 11 metres long, while the smaller upper block is 3.5 metres high, 8.5 metres wide and 10 metres long and has round niches in its corners, each containing a sculptural group of three figures. Its sides are also paneled with travertine. On the front of the monument, in between the groups "Work" ( depicting a fisherman, a craftsman and a farmer, who stands in the middle holding a scythe decorated with oak leaves and acorns to symbolize strength and manhood) and "Guards of the Fatherland" (depicting an ancient Latvian warrior standing between two kneeling modern soldiers), a dedication by the Latvian writer Karlis Skalbe is inscribed on one of the travertine panels: For Fatherland and Freedom ( Latvian: Tevzemei un Brivibai). On the sides the travertine panels bear two reliefs: "1905" (Latvian: 1905.gads in reference to the Russian Revolution of 1905), and "The Battle against the Bermontians on the Iron Bridge" ( Latvian: Cina pret bermontiešiem uz Dzelzs tilta, referring to the decisive battle in Riga during the Latvian War of Independence). On the back of the monument are another two sculptural groups: "Family" ( Latvian: Gimene) (a mother standing between her two children) and "Scholars" (Latvian: Gara darbinieki). On the red granite base there is yet another rectangular block, 6 metres high and wide, and 7.5 metres long, encircled by four 5.5–6 meters high gray granite sculptural groups: "Latvia" ( Latvian: Latvija), "Lacplesis" ( English: Bear-Slayer, an epic Latvian folk hero), "Vaidelotis" ( a Baltic pagan priest) and "Chain breakers" ( Latvian: Važu raveji) (three chained men trying to break free from their chains).

The topmost block serves also as the foundation for the 19 metres high monolithic travertine column, which is 2.5 metres by 3 metres at the base. To the front and rear a line of glass runs along the middle of the column. The column is topped by a copper figure of Liberty , which is 9 metres tall and in the form of a woman lifting three gilded stars, symbolizing the constitutional districts of Latvia: Vidzeme, Latgale and Courland. The whole monument is built around a frame of reinforced concrete and was originally fastened together with lead, bronze cables and lime mortar. However, some of the original materials were replaced with polyurethane filler during restoration. There is a room inside the Monument, accessed through a door in its rear side, which contains a staircase leading upwards in the Monument that is used for electrical installation and to provide access to the sewerage. The room cannot be accessed by the public and is used mainly as storage, however it has been proposed that the room could be redesigned forming a small exhibition, which would be used to introduce foreign officials visiting Latvia with the history of the Monument after the flower-laying ceremony.


The idea of building a memorial to honor soldiers killed in action during the Latvian War of Independence first emerged in the early 1920s. On July 27, 1922, the Prime Minister of Latvia, Zigfrids Anna Meierovics, ordered rules to be drawn up for a contest for designs of a "memorial column". The winner of this contest was a scheme proposing a column 27 metres tall with reliefs of the official symbols of Latvia and bas-reliefs of Krišjanis Barons and Atis Kronvalds. It was later rejected after a protest from 57 artists. In October 1923, a new contest was announced, using for the first time the term "Freedom Monument". The contest ended with two winners, and a new closed contest was announced in March 1925, but, due to disagreement within the jury, there was no result.

Finally in October 1929, the last contest was announced. The winner was the design "Shine like a star!" (Latvian: "Mirdzi ka zvaigzne!") by sculptor Karlis Zale, who had had success in the previous contests as well. After minor corrections made by the author and supervising architect Ernests Štalbergs, construction began on November 18, 1931. Financed by private donations, the monument was erected by the entrance to the old town, in the same place where the previous central monument of Riga, a bronze equestrian statue of the Russian Emperor Peter the Great, had stood. It was calculated in 1935, the year when the monument was unveiled, that in four years of construction 308,000 man-hours were required to work the stone materials alone: 130 years would have been required if one person were to carry out the work using the most advanced equipment of the time. The total weight of materials used was about 2,500 tons: such a quantity of materials would have required about 200 freight cars if transported by railway.

Materials used on the Monument of freedom.

It was travertine from Italy and granite from Finland that were chosen for the erection of the monument.
Central part of the monument Granite (Nystad) sculptures “lacplesis”and “Latvia”
Travertine relief “1905”Granite (Balmoral) sculptural groups “Sentinels of Motherland”

Travertine is a porous limestone widely used in the architecture of southern Europe, especially in Italy. World famous bildings are made of this rock, such as St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican, the justicePalace in Rome etc. It came from quarries near Tivoli not far from Rome.

Granite, because of its strength and suitability for cutting and carving. Granite froms when magma cools and crystallises deep in the earth. Granite for the Monument of Freedom was mined in Finland. The Grey granite came from Lypkki and the reddish one from Vehma in South-Western Finland.


A closeup view of the copper figure of Liberty lifting three gilded stars.The monument is endangered by the climate (which has caused damage by frost and rain) and by air pollution (see note 1). Although in 1990 the area around the monument was pedestrianized, there are still three streets carrying traffic around it. High concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide have been recorded near the monument, which in combination with water cause corrosion of the fabric of the monument. In addition, water has caused cracking of the reinforced concrete core and rusting of its steel reinforcements and the fastenings of the monument, which also have been worn out by constant vibrations caused by traffic. The porous travertine has gradually crumbled over time and its pores have filled with soot and particles of sand, causing it to blacken and providing a habitat for small organisms, such as moss and lichens. Irregular maintenance and the unskillful performance of restoration work have also contributed to the weathering of the monument. To prevent its further decay some of the fastenings were replaced with polyurethane filler and water repellent was applied to the monument during the restoration in 2001. It was also determined that maintenance should be carried out every 2 years.

The monument was restored twice during the Soviet era (1962 and 1980–1981). In keeping with tradition the restorations and maintenance after the renewal of Latvia's independence are financed partly by private donations. The monument underwent major restoration in 1998–2001. During this restoration the statue of Liberty and its stars were cleaned, restored and gilded anew. The monument was formally re-opened on July 24, 2001. The staircase, column, base and inside of the monument were restored, and the stone materials were cleaned and re-sealed. The supports of the monument were fixed to prevent subsidence. Although the restorers said at the time that the monument would withstand a hundred years without another major restoration, it was discovered a few years later that the gilding of the stars was damaged, due to the restoration technique used. The stars were restored again during maintenance and restoration in 2006; however, this restoration was rushed and there is no warranty of its quality.

note 1.
Acid rain is rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually acidic, i.e. elevated levels of hydrogen ions (low pH). It has harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals, and infrastructure through the process of wet deposition. Acid rain is caused by emissions of compounds of ammonia, carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur which react with the water molecules in the atmosphere to produce acids. Governments have made efforts since the 1970's to reduce the production of sulfuric oxides into the Earth's atmosphere with positive results. However, it can also be caused naturally by the splitting of nitrogen compounds by the energy produced by lightning strikes, or the release of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere by phenomena of volcano eruptions. (visit link)
Acid rain can also damage buildings and historic monuments, especially those made of rocks such as limestone and marble containing large amounts of calcium carbonate. Acids in the rain react with the calcium compounds in the stones to create gypsum, which then flakes off.

CaCO3 (s) + H2SO4 (aq) CaSO4 (aq) + CO2 (g) + H2O (l)
The effects of this are commonly seen on old gravestones, where acid rain can cause the inscriptions to become completely illegible. Acid rain also increases the oxidation rate of metals, in particular copper and bronze.

Questions and Logging requirements:

1. Take a photo of yourself or a team member with GPS in hands with the Freedom Monument on the background? Post this photo to your log and send the answer to the Questions by E-mail. (optional)
2. What is the name given by inhabitants to the Riga Freedom monument? (lady name)
3. The Freedom Monument replaced a old statue, Which statue was it?
4. Near the Freedom Monument is a clock, what name is written on this clock.?
5. Name of process that harms infrastructure by acid rain? (not the result)

Send the answers to the questions and enter your log, iff answers not accepted i will replay to you.

Additional Hints (No hints available.)

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