The land that currently comprises the Esplanāde Park was once an unruly and unkempt hill known as Senais or Kubes kalns. It was mentioned as early as the 12th century as a staging point for enemies to attack the area, which is why it was finally levelled by military decree in 1784. The flattened land later served as a parade ground for the local garrison, but was ultimately converted into a de facto park after locals grew accustomed to its pavilions during Riga’s 700th anniversary celebrations in 1901. Today it’s a popular place to stop in the summer for children’s attractions and a cool drink. The park includes statues of renowned writer Rainis and the Latvian army’s first commander-in-chief, Oskars Kalpaks. Its lawns and shady paths are flanked by the Orthodox Cathedral, the Latvian Art Academy and the National Art Museum.