Bastejkalns is one of the prettiest and most romantic parks in Riga. The narrow pathways, lanes of trees, stone gardens, water cascades, swan houses and beautifully maintained gardens also make it a popular site for wedding photographs.
Furthermore, newlyweds frequently hang locks on the Bastejkalns Bridge, symbolizing a long and happy life together. However, this attractive area of the city has also been involved in a tragic page of Latvian history during the times of the Barricades. The 1991 Barricades is how Latvians call the period from January 13 to 27, 1991, when people throughout the country set up makeshift barricades in Riga and other cities to safeguard the independence of Latvia. On January 20, 1991, special Soviet special forces units, or OMON, carried out an attack on the Latvian Interior Ministry building on Raiņa Boulevard in Riga. Military officers Vladimirs Gomonovičs and Sergejs Konoņenko, who were protecting the building, were killed in the attack. In the same attack, cameramen Andris Slapiņš and Gvido Zvaigzne, as well as student Edijs Riekstiņš were also killed.
Large boulders with the names of those killed in the attack were set up at Bastejkalns to honor their memory. The memorial was made by sculptor Arvīds Voitkāns.
Photographs and first-hand accounts from this important period in Latvian history can be found on the special 1991 Barricades webpage - barricades.latvia.eu.