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Historical military legacy


The territory of Latvia has been the location of many battlefields throughout history, with strategic military importance. During different periods of history, various military defense objects were constructed on Latvia’s territory, with some of them still remaining standing to this day. These objects have also become popular tourist attractions.

The testimonies of the many wars that have taken place on Latvia’s territory can be seen in various museums throughout the country. For example, the museum in Zante (western Latvia) dedicated to the battles of Kurzeme Province between 1944-1945 features real tanks and other weapons used at the time. The Latvian War Museum in Old Town Riga also has a wide range of items on exhibition. People interested in the events of World War I on Latvia’s territory can visit the Christmas Battles Museum near Riga.

The Daugavpils Fort is one of Eastern Europe’s only remaining forts from the first half of the 19th century. The fort from the Czarist Russia period has been well preserved, and features many of the defensive objects and structures that were built at that time.

Latvia has a substantial legacy remaining from the Soviet-era. Persons can go on an excursion to the site of the Irbene Radio Telescope, which was a top-secret area during the Soviet-era and used to spy on NATO countries during the Cold War. Now, the telescope is used to study for astronomy purposes and studying the skies.

Another impressive military site is the War Port near Liepaja (southwestern Latvia), which was originally built by the Russian Czar at the end of the 19th century. During the Soviet-era, the War Port was the Soviet Union’s main naval base on the Baltic Sea, and was closed to unauthorized persons. The site looks more like a ghost town today, however, the War Port’s Prison Museum has attracted much interest from tourists from around the world.

The Prison Museum offers brave persons the opportunity of becoming a Soviet prisoner for 24 hours, or even become a soldier. Recently, CNN even did a piece about the museum, with reporter Julia Dimon calling it one of the "craziest experiences" she has experienced in her professional career.

During the Cold War, several underground bunkers were built throughout the country. One of the largest, which was constructed to hold Latvia’s Soviet elite in case of a nuclear attack, is still intact today and has become a popular tourist attraction. The bunker is located in Ligatne (central Latvia).