Freedom Monument and the Central District

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Free

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Free, Neighborhood/Area, Monuments and Memorials Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

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  • 5.0Value
  • 4.5Food Scene
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Latvia's Lady Liberty stands atop a stone pillar in a downtown Riga plaza, holding three gilded stars above her head to remind onlookers of the country's hard-fought unity and freedom. Built in the 1935, it represented the union of Latvia's three original districts -- Vidzeme, Latgale and Kurzeme-Courland. Under Soviet occupation, the pillar came to represent Mother Russia uniting Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. In present day, travelers describe this monument as decidedly somber, but credit how it exudes Latvian perseverance through its troubled past.

The best evidence of progress might actually be the bustling Central District that surrounds the monument. Several embassies, the University of Latvia, the National Opera House, a park, tons of quaint cafés, and busy restaurants now call the neighborhood home. And the park around the monument (specifically the Laima Clock) is a popular meeting place for locals. Swing by yourself for a little people watching.  

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There are tours  -- including a free one -- that will narrate the buildings' historical significance, but as one TripAdvisor user suggests, the best way to experience the neighborhood is to pick up a map “from the tourist information site in the center and walk through the old town" on your own. While exploring, look out for the Town Hall Square (Ratslaukums) with the impressive House of Blackheads andandand the Swedish Gate along the remains of the ancient city walls.

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