There is no better place for a photo shoot than a city park. Against the backdrop of beautiful flower beds and green trees, it’s good to photograph couples, growing kids, and just take random shots. Walking in the park is also good. Fresh air, the beauty around is pleasing to the eye and soothes… No wonder when they want to praise a city, they often emphasize that the city is beautiful, green, there are many parks.
By the way, this is often said about Riga. You can’t argue, there are really a lot of parks in the capital of Latvia. The largest and most luxurious is Kronvalda Park, which lies on both banks of the city canal. It would seem, why in all other cities it is impossible to make the same beautiful canals and parks? After all, it’s so simple. But only those who do not know how many historical coincidences, conflicting interests and great work are behind the Kronvalda park in Riga.
Riga from the very moment of its foundation, from 1201, was a fortress city. Traders hid behind strong walls from enemy attacks. They had something to hide – the city stood at the crossroads of several water and land trade routes, and sometimes very rich cargoes passed through it. So Riga needed reinforced fortifications. From the outer side of the fortress walls there was a deep protective ditch filled with water. The city grew, and settlements appeared on the other side of the moat, outside the fortress walls. For example, merchants settled there, who did not want to pay a fee for entering the fortress, so they traded, as they say, “from the ground”. Their hastily put together buildings were regularly torn down by the city guards, but grew up again after a while. It is very reminiscent of the modern struggle with spontaneous trade, right?
At the beginning of the 17th century, after the Northern Wars, Riga became part of the Russian Empire. And after more than a hundred years, she lost her fortress walls. Russia lost the Crimean War of 1854-1856, and under the terms of the peace treaty, undertook not to have fortress cities as part of the state. The stone walls were demolished. The dug-out earth was partly used to strengthen the soil – let’s not forget that Riga stands in a swampy place, and the city is constantly flooded, and a mound was poured from the rest. However, they did not fill up the moat – it was easier to deliver building materials to the city center by water.
Why did the former fortress suddenly need building materials? After the change in the status of the city, the local authorities hired two talented architects to renovate the city. We had to wisely dispose of the vacated space. This is how the project of the Riga Boulevard Ring was born – a series of green streets that encircled the city center. Such boulevards on the site of the former fortress walls already existed in Paris. The reconstruction required the supply of materials, for which a canal was needed.
And where did the beautiful park on the banks of the canal come from? Here, too, there were adventures. The first park on the banks of the canal was laid out by the German Rifle Society. At this, as they would say now, interest club, it was customary for a long time to regularly shoot at the birds that lived in the thickets of black alder near the moat. Therefore, when the center was reconstructed, the cunning shooters simply ennobled the area of \u200b\u200bthe beloved forest – they laid paths, cleared it, and surrounded it with a fence. And … closed to the public! Other parks in Riga were accessible to everyone, but this one remained only for a small group of people. Rulers changed, wars began and ended, but the park remained private property.
Who prevented the taking away of the park from the stubborn shooters and using the land for useful purposes? Firstly, absolute respect for private property and law. Secondly, the shooters and other citizens understood that the approaches to the canal should remain undeveloped, on case of fire or delivery of goods. Only in 1931, the city authorities bought the park from the shooters and made it public. Then another reconstruction was started. The park was expanded on both banks of the canal, extended, decorated with rose gardens and fountains, and renamed in honor of Atis Kronvald, one of creators of the modern Latvian language.
Since then, no significant changes have been made to the structure of the park. But a lot of new monuments appeared. Here is a monument to Mirza Ulugbek, the grandson of Genghis Khan, and the Latvian chemist Paul Walden, and even our Taras Shevchenko. And recently, a funny dynamic sculpture appeared there in the form of a window frame, from which smoke comes out, as if it is on fire. So that citizens do not worry, a sign near the monument indicates that smoke is part of the composition, and the fire department of Riga has been warned.