Victory Park and Victory Monument
What has Victory Park not seen during its existence! Work on the park began in 1909 as a landscape park, and was called Peter Park, but over the years the park’s name changed on various occasions and served as a venue for military parades, and even hosted the Song Festival in 1938.
During the Kārlis Ūlmanis presidency period, it was planned to construct a monumental stadium on the land, which would symbolize the strength of the nation and would be comparable to the Olympic Stadium in Berlin with 25,000 seats. Three million lats worth of donations was even collected for the construction, but WWII halted these plans. At the end of the war, on February 3, 1946, the Soviet authorities publicly hanged seven German officers in the park. This historically was the last public death penalty in the territory of Latvia. The park’s main element today is the 1985 monument to “Soviet Latvia and the Liberators of Riga from German Fascists”. The monument’s central feature is a 79-meter high obelisk. The monument itself remains a controversial one in Latvia, as many in the country see it not as a symbol of the Soviet army’s victory, but of the occupation of Latvia. There was even a failed attempt by more radically minded elements to blow up the structure in 1997. Today, the park is popular with active residents, who use it for sporting purposes. In the winter, a cross-country ski track is also open.