Riga Brethren Cemetery
The Riga Brethren Cemetery’s memorial ensemble was unveiled on November 11, 1936 –Lāčplēsis Day. It is dedicated to the soldiers who fell during World War I and the Latvian Freedom Fights (1915-1920).
Three thousand heroes, including 300 unknown soldiers, lie buried in the cemetery ground. The cemetery’s chief sculptor Kārlis Zāle (1888-1942), who is also buried here, constructed the cemetery in three parts:
- The Reflection Path with a 205 m long linden tree avenue;
- The Heroes Terrace with the Holy Fire Altar and an oak grove;
- The Cemetery which ends at the Wall of Latvia with a sculptural group, the Image of Mother with fallen sons (also known as Mother Latvia), which adds the finishing touch to the ensemble.
It is symbolic that the resting place of Latvia’s heroes also played a considerable role during the nation’s Singing Revolution – it was here where the June 14, 1988 procession concluded, where for the first time since after WWII the Latvian flag was publicly carried through the city.
It must be added that the adjacent Forest Cemetery is where the founders of Latvia lay – the first Latvian Foreign Minister Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics (1887-1925), the first president of Latvia Jānis Čakste (1859-1927), as well as many other Latvian politicians and well known individuals.
The urn beneath the image of Mother Latvia contains 517 handfuls of soil, a handful from each parish. The complex was built from travertine, a local building material dug out from the subterranean depths of Latvia.