Karosta Prison in Liepaja, Latvia
The only military prison in Europe open to visitors. It was built at the beginning of 20th century and closed just 20 years ago. Now there is a possibility not only to visit it but also to participate in shocking interactive reality shows, play a spy game and try to escape the USSR, eat at authentic Soviet buffet, or, if you have the guts, spend the night in a prison cell. This place has officially been announced as “the most ghost haunted place in the world”, so the prison-hotel experience might be even spicier than anticipated.
If you only have time for a short tour around the prison, it is well worth it too. On a guided tour you will learn a lot about the history of this place, punishments used on soldiers, cruel ways to teach them discipline, differences between the Soviet and Nazi military practices. It is definitely one of the most interesting museums I have ever visited.
The surroundings are quite as interesting as the prison itself – Karosta used to be a naval base for the Tsar Alexander III, later served for the Soviet Fleet and now it is a ghost part of Liepaja due to the population drop from 25,000 to 6,000. Many houses and buildings were left behind, turned into ruins and now some people say that this ghost town reminds of the Chernobyl in Ukraine.
Nuclear Missile Base of Soviet Army in Samogitian National Park, Lithuania
Being the only Cold War museum in Europe, situated in one of the first Soviet underground nuclear missile bases, it guarantees you a few hours of fascinating history lessons with an authentic vibe. Visiting this once top secret site, you get a rare opportunity to enter a 27 m deep shaft where nuclear missile used to stand ready to be launched and wipeout its target from the face of the Earth at any time.
This base was dug up by thousands of soldiers, using only shovels, during the period of 1960-1962. The location for an underground base was chosen strategically as all European countries could be reached from there. The missile’s flight to London would have been just 25 minutes from the site.
Four SS-4 nuclear missiles were installed in the silos, fueled with a mixture of kerosene and nitric acid. There were also eight missile warheads, rocket carries and eight surface missiles stored in the nearby Šateikiai. These same rockets were loaded on commercial ships and transported to Cuba in 1962.
Visiting the missile silos labyrinth I’ve learned many interesting facts about the Cold War I never heard before, and that was quite strange, considering I was a history buff at school. Moreover, you can find plenty of information about propaganda strategies used during the period, the everyday life in the military base and find out more about the consequences of nuclear explosions.
Exploring the surroundings of the base, you might come upon an abandoned bunker, which should be quite an interesting place to wander in. My exploration didn’t last long as the bats living there were spooked by my flashlight and I was running out of there to save my long hair. 🙂 There is also a completely abandoned military town nearby, where the soldiers who worked in the base used to live. No possibility to get into the buildings though and that’s a pity.
If you are ready for some unique and spooky experiences, these museums should definitely appear in your travel itinerary. Hope to meet you here in the Baltic states!