43 m high column with on top
- a 9 meter high copper statue of a woman symbolizing the liberation of Latvia from foreign power holding in her out-stretched arms three gilded stars symbolizing the three historic Latvian regions: Latgale, Kurzeme (Courland) and Vidzeme, the modern area of Zemgale used to be part of the ancient region of Kurzeme.
On the lower section of the monument are 12 sculptures and reliefs, depicting Latvian culture and history:
Gray granite statues around the foot of the column
- (front) Latvija / Latvia: The Apotheosis of Latvia, man with sword and shield.
- (back) Važu rāvēji / Chain breakers: three chained men trying to break free from their chains.
- (right) Vaidelotis, a Baltic pagan priest.
- (left) Lāčplēsis, The Bear-slayer.
Red granite statues on the four corners of the base:
- (front right) Tēvzemes sargi / Guards of the Fatherland: an ancient Latvian warrior standing between two kneeling modern soldiers
- (front left) Darbs / Work: 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
- (back left) Gara darbinieki / Scholars.
- (back right) Ģimene / Family: a mother standing between her two children.
Two travertine reliefs on the base:
- (right) 1905.gads / 1905: reference to the Russian Revolution of 1905.
- (left) Cīņa pret bermontiešiem uz Dzelzs tilta / The Battle against the Bermontians on the Iron Bridge: referring to the decisive battle in Riga in 1919 during the Latvian War of Independence.
Two travertine reliefs flanking the stairs at the back side:
- Latvju strēlnieki / Latvian riflemen.
- Latvju tauta – dziedātāja / Latvian people: the Singers.
The monument was designed by Kārlis Zale and constructed by Ernests Stalberg. The first stone was laid on 18 November 1931 and it was unveiled precisely four years later.
The saga of Lāčplēsis
The saga of Lāčplēsis – based on existing Latvian folklore – was published by Andrejs Pumpurs in 1888, a time when a new national consciousness was awakening in Latvia. The epic not only reflected this national movement, but also actually helped spur it on. The story, which is set in 13th-century pagan Latvia, about the time of the nation's conquest by the German Crusaders, recounts the exploits of a giant-sized man named Lāčplēsis, who endeavors to defend his homeland from assorted invaders. Lāčplēsis, or the Bear Slayer, is part man, part bear, a factor that accounts for his unusually large, fuzzy ears. Otherwise, a kindly figure, Lāčplēsis goes into action whenever his fellow Latvians are in trouble.
- Kārlis Zāle (Mažeikiai, Lithuania, 1888 - Inčukalns, Latvia, 1942),
Sources & Information
Location (N 56°57'5" - E 24°6'48")
Item Code: lv038; Photograph: 10 July 2013
Of each statue we made photos from various angles and also detail photos of the various texts.
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© Website and photos: René & Peter van der Krogt
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