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Oct 17 2014

The Bremen Town Musicians in Riga

I don’t tend to do too much research when I visit places.  I like to be surprised, wowed, and amazed by the things I come across in my own little, serendipitous way.  That, for me, is part of the intrigue and excitement of going to a new destination.  It’s a voyage of discovery.

During my short time in Riga, the capital of Latvia, a few months ago, I came across a sculpture that surprised and scared me a little, apart from the donkey who reminds me of Donkey from Shrek.  He could never be scary, could he?

There is an interesting story behind this sculpture, so I thought I would share it with you this week as a Foto Friday.Animal statue outside St Peter's Church in Riga

I was surprised to see such a statue, wondering what it represented and why it was outside a church – St Peter’s.  As it turns out, it makes a political statement, is a reminder of the past, and is one of the major attractions in Riga.

It’s called the Bremen Town Musicians because it is based on one of the many Brothers Grimm fairy tales.  This one is about a donkey, dog, cat, and rooster, who are past their prime and no longer considered useful by their owners.  They decide to head for Bremen for a life of freedom and to become musicians.  The situation immortalised in this statue is when they find a cottage which has robbers inside.  To rid the cottage of the robbers, so they can take refuge in it, they create a commotion that scares the robbers by standing on each other’s backs, making as much noise as they can.  It works.  The robbers run away and the animals take over the cottage.  Here, the sculpture, created by Krista Baumgaertel in 1990, represents something a little different.  According to the Live Riga website, it’s about independence and looking through the Iron Curtain at a new world of independence.  It’s significant because the sculpture was erected in 1990 and Latvia regained independence from the Soviet Union a year later.  If you’re wondering what the link between Bremen and Riga is, they are twinned.  Apparently, there are similar sculptures outside all five of the the universities of Veterinary Medicine in Germany.

This is a very popular sculpture.  I saw lots of people having their photos taken by it.  I’ve read that it’s considered good luck to rub the sculpture’s noses and they can grant wishes if you touch a different part of each animal, like one of the donkey’s hooves.  So, if you want a bit of luck or a wish to come true while you are in Riga, you could try either or maybe even both. Who knows, maybe your wishes will come true.  Well, it is based on a fairy tale and they always have happy endings.


If you would like to see this sculpture for yourself, it’s in the Old Town here…

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Have your say

Have you seen any of the other sculptures?  Perhaps you can add more information to what I have managed to gather on this sculpture.  If you can, i will add it to this post and credit you with providing the information.

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