The Kilometre zero

In many countries around the world, a special place has been created – the Kilometre zero.

It is a reference point from which road distances in the country are measured. To highlight the significance of these places, the Kilometre zero location is often marked with a special sign on the ground or wall. The Kilometre zero can also be marked with a monument, building, or bridge.

In Ancient Rome, the starting point for measuring road distances in the empire was established with the Golden Milestone (Milliarium Aureum). It was a column made of gilded bronze located in the Roman Forum. The column was erected by the order of the Roman Emperor Augustus in the 20th year BCE, and it had inscriptions indicating the distances to the capitals of the provinces in the Roman Empire. All the main roads of the Roman Empire originated from this column, giving rise to the famous saying:
“All roads lead to Rome”.

Until today, only the base of the Golden Milestone has been preserved.

What remains today of the Golden Milestone column (Milliarium Aureum). Photo:

From ancient times to the present day, many cities around the world have Kilometre zero signs, indicating both the historical and modern reference points for measuring road and railway distances.

Let’s take a look at some of these signs!

Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo:
Chișinău, Moldova. Photo:
Madrid, Spain. Photo:
Bucharest, Romania. Photo:
Budapest, Hungary. Photo:
Tokyo, Japan. Photo:
Moscow, Russia. Photo:
Paris, France. Photo:
Manila,Philippines.. Photo:
Bratislava, Slovakia. Photo:
Washington, USA.Photo:
Minsk, Belarus. Photo:

Unfortunately, its Kilometre zero is not clearly marked in Riga nowadays.
If you look back in history, such a place was determined for Riga. For example, in 1843, when the Riga post office moved to premises at 33 Kungu street, this place became the starting point of Riga, from which distances were measured to any other populated place in the Russian Empire and abroad. Also in the following times, when the post office building changed its location, the main post office building in Riga was the symbol of the Kilometre zero of Riga.

The place of Kilometre zero and marking it in nature with an appropriate sign does not have a clear rational meaning in our era, but it would certainly be a good tourist attraction.

As a conditional alternative to the Kilometre zero of Riga, there is the Sundial – Origo Universi, which was opened on November 14, 2012 in the Riga station square. It is both an object of design and a source of knowledge. In a circle with a diameter of 10 m, the Sundial is only one of the elements. In addition, it indicates the directions to the cultural objects of European cities, 11 Latvian castles and also shows the signs of the zodiac. In the central part of the sundial there is a sign indicating the geographical coordinates of a given point.

Sundial in Riga station square. Photo:
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