The Freedom Monument if a symbol of independent Latvia. From the moment Latvia acquires its independence a search for a suitable artistic solution started and donations were gathered. The monument was built in 1931-35, its author was a well-known latvian architect Karlis Zale. The statue of Liberty (sculpturer R. Mirsmeden) holds three stars - the symbols of historical areas in Latvia: Kurzeme, Vidzeme, Latgale.
The pedestal is surrounded by sculptural compositions "Buards of Fatherland", "Mother Latvia", "Labour and Family" and others. The monument is turned to the West - the Liberty sculpture looks that way, proud sculptures of other compositions look the same way. Figures in chains, bent in a bow look the other way - to the East.
It is interesting to know that the symbol of independence of Latvia managed to survive the soviet times. According to the legend, Stalin planned to blow it up after the war but Vera Muhina, who was born in Riga and was a student of K. Zale, stood up for it. The monument, that was of a great artistic value, was not destroyed, but was indeed forgotten. Lenin's monument on the other side of the boulevard was built standing with its back to "Freedom" and its face to the East.
Naturally, during the "Perestroika" time, the Freedom Monument was the main place of meetings and piquets. In 1994 it was the place where Bill klinton supported the independent Baltic on behalf of America. The monument is also populr for the well-known maches of the vererans of the Latvian legion of SS in the 90s, that ended with laying flowers at the pedestal. These marches were banned by authorities for different reasons.
In 2001 the monument was reconstructed. It now has a guard of honour, festivities take place here.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.