The Great Cemetery was set up in 1773. At the time, Catherine the Great decided that all burials in the Russian empire were to be moved from churchyards to new cemeteries set up on town boundaries. This was to overcome the overcrowding due to the outbreak of the Black Plague.
Walking north-east from the centre of Riga, I came across the Russian section of the Great Cemetery. I have never seen Russian Orthodox crosses before. It has three horizontal beams and the bottom one is a tilted footrest.
It was a quiet place and I saw no other visitors. The graves have no flowers, except for the occasional weather-beaten plastic arrangement. The trees, in mid springtime, were still bare sticks and gave the place a bleak, dark atmosphere.
The Orthodox Church in the middle of the graveyard was closed and seemed to only in use for funerals. A few burials have taken place since WWII but not many.
The majority of the graves have concrete boxes on top, although small and not practical to hold an adult. I gather they are traditional or symbolic to place above a grave. Many were nameless.
There was a small section of graves of World War II Russian soldiers at the back of the cemetery.
The Great Cemetery continues across a main road from this Russian section. The area is used as parkland, more then a cemetery nowadays. A lot of the headstones have deteriorated over the years or been destroyed when Latvia was occupied by the Russians and Nazi’s.