78 The Freedom Monument It would be hard to visit Riga and at least not see the Freedom Monument even if somehow you didn’t pass it. It has been a symbol of Latvia’s freedom, independence and sovereignty since it was erected in 1935 to honor soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence. The monument again became an important symbol of Latvia’s freedom following the fall of the Soviet Union, honoring those lost during the Soviet occupation. And, so it remains Riga’s most important landmark. riga/latvia Set alongside the canals and with beautiful adjacent parklands, the area around Freedom Monument is a lovely place to spend an afternoon. Hire a boat and take a cruise down the canals or just wander the parklands. Pauls Stradins Museum for History of Medicine This is one of the more unusual and fascinating museums we have ever been to. Established in 1957 based on Pauls Stradins personal collection, it has been curated to explore the development of medicine from ancient times to present day and to understand the relationship between history and medicine. You will find some fairly standard medical displays, such as dentistry through the ages, as well as examples of the Soviet Union’s medical contributions to the space race. But, by far the most outstanding and intriguing exhibit is the two-headed dog, which believe it or not, was the pioneering research that gave us what we know today as organ transplants. We really did enjoy Riga, so much so we have talked about returning to explore the rest of Latvia and the other Baltic States. There is a wonderful vibe about this city that has been described by some as “pleasant.” We found it to be more than just pleasant. It is cultured, progressive, friendly, clean and has an almost youthful quality. Maybe this is something that comes from being a newly liberated country. Mark & Kate are the world-traveling Australian couple behind vagrantsoftheworld.com. They have extensive experience to share with everyone, whether you prefer a weekend away or an epic journey. These voyages to RIGA o¥er the opportunity to explore her and many other delightful ports throughout Northern Europe.