The year 2014, when Riga celebrated as a European Capital of Culture, also marked a century since the beginning of the First World War, a conflict that represented a turning point for many countries. Hence, part of the Riga 2014 cultural programme was dedicated to Brivibas iela (meaning "Freedom Street" in Latvian), one of Riga's main arteries.
The name of this street has changed many times, along with the change of regimes that have ruled over the Latvian capital. For example, during Russian imperial rule the avenue changed name to Alexander Street (after Tsar Alexander II). Then it was Revolution Street for a few months under the Bolsheviks after the end of the First World War. The street gained its current name Brivibas iela (although the name Victory Street had also been considered) during Latvia's first period of independence. Its name changed to Adolf Hitler Strasse during the Nazi German occupation and then Lenin Street under Soviet rule. The street regained the name Brivibas iela after Latvia won back its statehood.
On the stretch from the Freedom Monument to what were before the KGB headquarters in Latvia, several unique events and exhibitions are being held, with a focus on the relationship between power and culture. The first stop is on the corner of Brivibas iela and Elizabetes iela, where the statue of Lenin once stood. In Monument Wars, an installation set up by sculptor Aigars Bikse, four sculptures in succession arise on a pedestal, each replacing the previous sculpture for a while, and each referring to a country that has ruled Latvia in the past. Each sculpture also refers to a particular ideal that has been propounded by the country in question: Germany (nationalism), Poland (Christianity), Sweden (globalisation) and Russia (revolution).
Moving on towards Stabu iela, ten windows designed by artist Anna Heinrihsone show the former appearance of the street corners on which they are situated and offer artistic improvisations as to the function of a shop window itself in different decades of the 20th century.
On May 1st 2014, the former KGB building, also known as the Corner House (Brivibas iela 61, corner of Stabula iela), opened again for the public since the first time since 1942. Visitors will be able to see the chilling areas where prisoners were once held and interrogated, along with expositions and other related events.
Cathedral of the Nativity
The Cathedral of the Nativity is the largest and architecturally the grandest of the Orthodox religious buildings in the Baltic region. Up to the mid-19th century, Riga's main Orthodox place of worship was the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul in the Citadel. In the 1870's, fund-raising for a new cathedral began.
Construction of the building started in the summer of 1876, and in October 1884 the cathedral was consecrated.
St Alexander Nevsky Ortodox Church
The St Alexander Nevsky Church was built in Riga in the early 19th century as a memorial to the victory of the Russian Empire over Napoleon. Significant is the central location of the church. In the early 18th century, the Orthodox Church of the Icon of Our Lady of the Living Spring was in this area. However, it was destroyed in 1812 during the war between Russia and France.
The foundation stone for the new church was laid in 1820, and consecration took place in autumn 1825. The church has a Classical style , consisting of a centrally-planned rotunda structure with a dome over its central part.