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Liepāja and surrounding
Castles, Fortresses, Towers,  Museums, Galleries, Exhibitions
Castles, Fortresses, Towers, 
Museums, Galleries, Exhibitions

Karosta is a military port prison built at the beginning of the 20th century for the needs of a naval hospital but never used for the intended purpose. From the very first day of its existence, it served as a place where sailors were sent for dereliction of duty: you might say it was a prison.

The first prison cells were filled with participants of a revolutionary uprising in 1905. Many sailors did not survive to the moment they would be set free: humid sea climate, cold wind, and concrete walls, slowly but surely, killed the imprisoned sailors.

It sounds terrible, but nobody buried the dead. Opposite the prison, they built an enormous mass grave; the number of buried Russian sailors remains unknown.

After Latvia gained sovereignty and released Russian prisoners, Karosta did not change at all. From that moment, it was a place of confinement for guilty Latvian sailors. Trying to leave some trace behind, they scratched their names on the walls, sent regrets to their families, and wrote poems. The last letter was left on the wall in 1997, and in 1998, Karosta finally closed.

Today the enormous complex holds different excursions. You can wander through the area, listen to horrifying details of prisoners’ detention from a guide, look into cells and even sit on a bunk bed.

As you step into the large concrete building looking like a sarcophagus, a horrible feeling of inevitable fate touches your shoulder. Everything here is saturated with pain and bitterness but, at the same time, the strength and courage of men who got out of this dreadful place. You get a grave and ambiguous impression. After visiting Karosta, you won’t want to talk to anyone for long and will need time to absorb what you saw and heard, and accept that young sailors were imprisoned here a short time ago.

Address: 4 Invalīdu iela

Published by

Tanya Slyotina

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