Dome Square and Latvian Radio Building
Dome Square is the largest square in Old Town Riga, where seven streets converge into the square – Smilšu, Rozena, Šķūņu, Zirgu, Pils, Jēkaba and Jauniela. The square has always served as a main gathering point, where important historical events have taken place, even during the days of the 1991 Barricades (the time of the Barricades was a decisive event in Latvia’s history and path towards restoration of independence, where the people erected barricades around important buildings to safeguard Latvia’s independence).
The Latvian Radio building is also located on Dome Square, and this was one of the main buildings which the Latvian people protected during the Barricades. When the 1991 Barricades began to form, people from all over Latvia converged onto Riga with heavy trucks, agricultural vehicles and other heavy equipment, and placed them in strategic points throughout Old Town Riga, so that Soviet tanks would not be able to break through them. The people also set up barricades outside important buildings made up of concrete blocks, logs, pieces of metal and other materials. Dome Square was also the central meeting place for those participating in the Barricades – the Dome Cathedral was not only a medical point, but also a place of refuge for participants, where they could rest and warm up during the cold winter months. Bonfires were lit in the square, concerts were performed and food and warm tea was also delivered to the participants by Riga residents.
Riga Radio made its first broadcast on November 1, 1925 with a live broadcast of Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly. The first official radio broadcast was two hours and 55 minutes, and it was heard by 331 subscribers and several “pirates” listening in without licenses. Already the next year, the Radio Symphony Orchestra was established, as well as a string of new radio programs, including literary performances, children’s programming, informative programs etc. By the end of the next year, Riga Radio began re-broadcasting foreign radio broadcasts as well. Radio competitions featuring Latvian composers were also organized. Meanwhile, Latvian Radio has been working from the building on Dome Square 8 since November 5, 1949.