“TheCeļotājs” –
Liepāja City Sights in Courland
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Introduction to Liepaja City Sights –
 
Though these many pages and photographs, "TheCeļotājs" will try and show you the many historical sights the City of Liepaja and its surrounding areas has to offer with a walking tour of historical Liepaja Old Town and its many old wooden and brick structures as well as its many historical Churches and Cathedrals. You will also see the historical décor of the interior of Liepaja Holy Trinity Lutheran Cathedral – ANNO 1742, Saint Joseph Catholic Cathedral - ANNO 1894 and the exterior of the oldest church in Liepaja, Saint Anne's Lutheran Church – ANNO 1508. As some of you maybe young at heart, we will even climb the “137” wooden steps that wind around the inside of Holy Trinity Lutheran Cathedral’s bell tower to get a birds eye view of the City of Liepaja from the  walkway that runs around the outside of the bell tower. While we are inside the bell tower you will even see the clock movement that dates back to 1906 and is still working. You will even get a close up view of its two bells. We will also visit the exteriors of the many Russian Orthodox Cathedrals that are located through Liepaja. While walking around Liepaja Old Town we will see the many different monuments and statues dedicated to the famous people from the past or to the events that surround its history. For Liepaja has a very extensive history that dates back to 18 March 1625 when it gained its city rights. But its history goes back much earlier then this as far back to 4 April 1253 when the original settlement at the location of modern Liepaja was founded by Curonian fishermen of Piemare and was known by the name Līva “from the name of the river Lyva on which Liepaja was located, which in turn originated from the Livonian word Liiv meaning "drops". While exploring Old Town we will visit the Livas Cemetery and located at the south end of the cemetery is the Jewish Cemetery, where there are two memorials dedicated to the Jewish people who perished during World War II. While in the area, we will explore both the Centralie Cemetery and the Liepaja Soviet Union World War II Military Cemetery.
 
While in Old Town, we took more time to visit Liepaja Peter's Market and its Pavilion to see just what all they had to sell. While walking through the market area, we can see a verity of items being sold. From fruits and vegetables to clothing and flowers to hardware and etc. As we go inside the pavilion we can see cases of meats, bread, pastries, dairy products and soda pop of different brand and flavors. One needs to remember this, that these are individual stalls owned and operated by individual people. Its not like going to a general super market where the super market is owned by a holding company. These people who own and operate these stalls, only make a living from what they sell. These types of markets and how they are operated date back to the beginning of time when farmers would bring their products to towns to be sold in open markets. Inside the pavilion market area is some what set up like Riga's Central Markets and other Latvia town and city markets but are on a much smaller scale then Riga's market. The only different I saw was Liepaja pavilion area was setup to sell meats, bread, pastries, dairy products and soda pop of different brand and flavors that needs to be kept in coolers. There was some general merchandise stalls that sold general products that could not be outside. While visiting the outside area of the market area we looked at some of the merchandise they offered. Some of this merchandise is clothing, shoes, and etc. is imported from other countries and their prices are well with reason. They even sell CD's and DVD's be it music or movies. I was told by a friend in Liepaja, what you see here today may very well has been stolen yesterday or is pirated so one has to be very careful when purchasing and of these CD's or DVD's. You can find almost anything that one can find in a Shopping Mall.
 
As time went on, and people started traveling around the world, either by land or by sea, the world trade opened up, some of these items began being sold in specialty stores. But as for dairy products, eggs, meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts were grown on farms and brought to the markets. Most people today only know of a super market and have never seem or visited an open air market place as can be found in other parts of the world. I can remember the Saturday Farmer's Markets, where people had gardens and brought their home grown products to these markets to be sold. With out telling my age, I can remember when bread was $.25 per loaf and it was even cut into slices. Meat was processed on site in the stores meat counter, hamburger was freshly ground right then or they had prepackaged meats and if you need it cut, they did it right there or one could go to a butcher shop and watch a side of beef or pork being cut up into what you wanted. These times are gone for ever thanks to big business and the need for big profits and mass production.
 
These are only a few of the many sights you will be able to see while visiting Liepaja Old Town. 
 
As we move north, we will come to the Trade Canal, which during the Soviet Union occupation was strictly off limits to the residents, as we walk along the canal one can see the Liepaja Port area which is located across the canal in Liepaja New Town. As we walk to New Town, we must cross the Tram Bridge, where you can get a view of both ends of the canal. While in New Town, we visited Liepaja Old Cemetery, which has two parts to it. The old part which is quite in disrepair, while the new part is well keeps. While in New Town, we visited other Churches and Cathedrals located through out the New Town area. We also visited New Liepaja Northern Cemetery and its many late 19th to early 20th century graves as well as the many different World War I monuments and grave sites that are located through the cemetery. We even had the chance to visit the New Liepaja Fire Station which is housed in a late 19th to early 20th century red brick structure. This fire station is still using Soviet era fire pumper trucks and truck equipment. This fire station is not like most other stations, its trucks and equipment is housed in a separate detached building from the main building. So when the fire alarm goes off, they have to go from the main building to the detached building unlatch their wooden doors and swing them out before the trucks can leave. While photographing this building, the firemen that were on duty at this time took us inside the building that houses it trucks and equipment and showed us its fire pumper trucks and the trucks equipment. I haven't met a Fireman yet who won't take the time to show off their equipment. These are only a few of the many sights you will be able to see while visiting Liepaja New Town.
 
As we still move north and cross the Kalpak’s Bridge and Karosta Canal, we come to Karosta Naval Port and its many Russian Tsar's era historical buildings that date back to the early 1900. Most of these buildings are now in very poor condition and disrepair. Some of the buildings that you can see while in Karosta are Naval Port Manege, Karosta Water Tower, Station of Homing Pigeons which is now a private resident, Navy Officers’ Conventions which is now located inside a fenced in area of the Latvia Home Defense restricted area and no longer open to the public. House of Two Admirals, Naval Port Guardhouse which is now a museum with daily guided tours, Saint Nicholas Maritime Cathedral which when I was there, it was under exterior remodeling. Karosta Naval Port, was built during the former Russian Tsar's Alexander III and Nicholas II Reign, then later when the Soviet Union Red Army reinvaded Latvia in the fall of 1944 to push the Nazi Army out of Russia, which is another story, and to defeat the Nazi Army, after the end of World War II to when it finally forced to leave Karosta, since Latvia had regained its independence in 1991, the finale Soviet Union forces left Karosta in May 1994. During the Soviet Union second occupation Karosta became a closed and restricted naval home to the Soviet Union Baltic Fleet as well as the former Soviet Union Military sites which are covered in more detail in other websites. While in Karosta, we visited the Karosta Garnizona Cemetery, which dates back to the late 18th to early 19th century. It is what is called a mixed cemetery with both Latvian and Russians buried there. Also located in this cemetery is the monument to the Soviet Union Soldiers that were killed defending Latvia during the Nazi Army invasion of Liepaja. Also in this cemetery there are 11 Soviet Soldiers that are buried in a collective grave.
 
Moving from Karosta we come to the Karosta Northern Breakwater which was built during the time Karosta Naval Port was being built and is an engineering marvel of the time as well as the history behind it. The Northern Breakwaters extends some 1800 meters from the shore line out into the Baltic Sea. 
 
This hydro technical construction is closely connected with building Liepaja Naval Fortress and Naval Port construction and it is a very significant part of it.
 
The authors of breakwater’s project are Russian engineers S. Boreisha, M. Maksimovich and engineer Colonel I. A. McDonald. The technical supervisors were engineer Captain V. Vselov and N. Korsakevic. It cost 2.88 millions Russian Rubles to build the breakwater. It is 1800 meters long “including solid head” and 7.35 meters wide. The building of The Northern Breakwater began on 3 March 1891 “foundation-stone was set on 16 August” and it was completed on 31 October 1893. The head of this breakwater is made from 21 meters long and 12.5 meters wide platform made as a position for cannons. Further on there are 265 meter wide Northern Sea Gate of Liepaja Port. 
 
On 12 August 1893, the 2/3 thirds of the breakwater were completed when Tsar of Russia Alexander III came to Liepaja. That was his last journey because of his death on 1 November 1894. Using newly constructed building here happened flourish of trumpets of Liepaja Naval Fortress and Baltic Fleet Base. 7, 11 and 36 ton concrete solids were made in the concrete factory next to the breakwater. A special hole was made in one of these concrete solids and there was placed in a big silver memorial plank, golden, silver and cuprous Russian Imperial coins made in 1893 and a special message. In a special cylinder Tsar placed personal standard and flag of the country. After that everyone symbolically bricked up the hole with trowel considering social and state standing. Later on English block crane :Titan” which was also used in construction of the Northerner Breakwater delivered solid till the end of the breakwater and drowned it in to the sea while the workers were hurrying.
 
It was the first time in the history of building such objects in Russia when wittingly was used concrete solids with irregular shape as a base for construction in the sea, while making hydro technical building of Liepaja Port at the end of the 19th century. This technology still ensures stability of the Northern Breakwater. There were concrete trapeziums placed next to the northern side of breakwater to reduce impact. Today they are replaced with tridents.
 
Leaving the Northern Breakwater, we will head further north and explore the ruins of the Russian Tsar's Fortifications that once encircled the City of Liepaja. According to the intention of the Russian Army and Navy Headquarters, the Naval Port of Liepaja had to be provided with safe cover from the land and the sea to ensure protection in case of probable enemy’s attack. Therefore the outer fortification system for the naval base was erected during 1893–1906. The line girt the whole city. The Liepaja fortifications were liquidated in November 1908. Part of the cannons were dismounted and brought to the Kaunas fortress in Lithuania, another part was melted or left in the port to be used as polers “slabs on the shore for vessel towing”. They attempted to blast the gun batteries, the underground structures and the gunpowder depots but did not succeed efficiently. The remnants of this attempt are what you can see today. These nine fortifications are well worth visiting. Six of these fortifications are not on a regular tour list, but with a local guide, these other six are well worth visiting. 
 
Moving yet further north, we come to Skede Dunes, which is located along the Baltic Sea coast and 15km north of Liepaja, is the largest site of the Nazi’s Mass Murder of Liepaja Jewish and non-Jewish victims in 1941–1942 some 7500 Latvian people were murdered and buried in these dunes. Today there is a Soviet Union and Jewish Memorial dedicated to the Jewish people that were murdered in this location. Along the path leading to both Soviet Union and Jewish Memorial, there is a small memorial plaque that is dedicated to the some 3000 plus anti-Nazi and non-Jewish victims of the total people who where murdered here. While is the area and with the help of a satellite map showing the locations of these three (3) mass graves and the some 7500 victims that were murdered here. I walked this area and photographed the area were these mass graves were to be located. Due to the laps in time, "71 years" and the ever changing environment to the dunes, all I could do was take pan shots of the area using the satellite map. Do to the dunes are protected, there is no boundaries or outline markers to show just were these mass graves are. But there was a GPR "Ground Penetrating Radar" study made to locate the outlines of them. Maybe someday they will be outlines like other mass murder sites I have visited. For example; Runbula Forest with Six (6) Mass Graves and 25,000 victims and Biķernieku Forest with Fifty-five (55) Mass Graves and 35,000 victims. These are just a few of the mass murder sights located though out Latvia, but they are smaller ones then the three (3) listed above, which are known as the largest ones in Latvia.
 
Before we leave Liepaja, we will board the "ČETRI VĒJI" a Charter Boat down our life jacket and take a water view of both Liepaja Tirdzniecibas kanāls "Trade Canal", and Karostas kanāls "Karosta Canal" and its harbors. While heading out from the Trade Canal to what is called the inter breakwaters you can see ocean going cargo ships taking on cargo, while others are just tied up to the docks. Located along the north side of the canal "which is part of the Liepaja Sea Port" you can see logs piled up waiting to be exported and the large dock cranes. There is even a cargo ship taking on grain for export. As we head out to the bay area and north, we can see the west coastal area of the port and the many grain storage bins. Heading north and to the inter breakwaters area and the entrance to Karosta Naval Port Canal, you can see beacons located on the ends of the breakwaters. Now as we enter Karosta Naval Port, we can see the Oskars Kalpaks Bridge and as we head under it, you see the bridge spans and the equipment that opens and closes it.
 
Now that we have gone under Oskars Kalpaks Bridge and heading east into the Karosta Naval Port area, you can see Liepaja petroleum storage tanks. Getting close to the port area, you can see a dry dock and part of the former Liepaja Shipyard “Tosmare” ship building area that has two dry docks and a floating dock. As we turn north to the inter port area, you can see a couple ocean going fishing boats and in front of them is a cargo ship with its cargo cranes. As we turn west again, you can see a tug boat tied up. The small ramp leading to the waters edge is a small ship repair area. As we turn west, you can see the former covered submarine repair dock. If you wait a minute, we will head inside it so you can see it even closer. This covered dock was build during the Soviet Naval era to keep American satellites from seeing what Soviet submarine that were docked. Also located along the west side of the inter port, are docks and a dock jutting into the port water. As we head out from the Karosta Naval Port Canal area, we can see part of the Naval Port area. Also there are pilings for tying up ships. As we head back out to the inter bay area, and looking out to the Baltic Sea you can see the outer breakwaters and what was part of the outer coastal defenses. As we head south and back to the entrance to Trade Canal you can see the entrance breakwaters and the radio and radar towers used for controlling the canal traffic. Now that we are heading back to our starting point, you can see fishing boats and the Latvian Naval boats moored to their dock area.
 
During the time we spent in Liepaja,  we visited four of the five museums that are located in Old Town, New Town and Karosta. Liepaja Under the Regimes Occupation Museum, which is located in Old Town, at Klāva Ukstina 7/9 is a two story red brick building. All the exhibitions are located on the first floor taking up four rooms. Located in the hallway is the Mass Deportations Wall of Remembrance to those who were deported from the Liepaja Area both in 14 June 1941 and again in 25 March 1949. This Wall of Remembrance has lists of Names of those who were deported with stats of each person or family that were deported. 
 
Liepaja Under the Regimes of Occupation “Liepāja okupaciju rezimos” not unlike the one in Riga, although on a much smaller scale, this museum traces the bloody history of both the Soviet and Nazi occupation of Latvia and the direct effect on Liepaja. Exhibits illustrate how the Soviets ‘held elections’ which included only one party, the communist party, and how attempts by local Latvians to create an opposition ballot only led to a swift death. It also shows the genocide committed against the Jewish population, the deportations of Latvians to Siberia and, later, the creation of the independence movement in the 1980s. Sadly the exhibits aren’t available yet in English. Soviet gulag survivors meet upstairs.
 
The museum’s department “Liepaja during the occupational regimes” was opened on the 21st of January 2001. Its mission is to maintain collective historic memory of the nation in order to strengthen its national self-consciousness, which is state system’s ideological and emotional basis, while recounting historic questions considering the loss of state system and occupational period. This department is situated in the building that during the Awaking period used to be the lodging of the Latvian National Front in Liepaja Klāva Ukstina iela 7/9.
 
The basic layout reflects the influence of international treaties of 1939 “Molotov-Ribentrop Pact and the USSR and Latvia’s mutual help treaty” on the Liepāja region socially politic, economic and cultural life – repatriation of german-baltics, the events of 1940-1942, the beginning of the soviet occupational regime, socially economic transformations and changes, Liepāja during the Second World War, the repeated soviet occupation, deportations of 1941 and 1949, gulag, the Third Awaking, including the period of time from 1939 till 1991.
 
The 1941 and 1949 Mass Deportations Wall of Remembrance is located in the main hallway of the exhibition part of the Liepaja Under the Regimes of Occupation “Liepāja okupaciju rezimos” Museum and is dedicated to those Latvian’s who were deported in 14 June 1941 and 25 March 1949. This exhibition has lists of those who were deported where they were deported and when and their status.  
The first section shows those deported on 14 June 1941 the names, date of birth, address lived at, the gulag or forced labor camp sent to and when they died. 
 
These lists are by provinces located around Liepaja with a total number deported from each province. Like 527 Latvian people who were deported from the City of Liepaja on the 14 June 1941. 
 
The second section shows those deported on 25 March 1949 the names, date of birth, address lived at, the gulag or forced labor camp sent to and when they died.
 
These lists are by provinces located around Liepaja with a total number deported from each province. Again like 204 Latvian people who were deported from the City of Liepaja on the 25 March 1949.  
For further information on these lists and if any of your family members or your relatives are included on one or more of these lists please contact the museum. These lists are in Latvian only along with any information about them. 
 
The Liepaja Old Fishermen Museum, located in Old Town, is located at the west end of the port on Vecā ostmala and standing alone in the middle of the pier area is a single brick mason covered build were one can find the Liepaja Old Fishermen Museum. 
 
As we enter the main and only entrance to the Liepaja Old Fishermen Museum one will see old fishing gear, nets, straw reed netting fishing traps, there is even an old dugout canoe.  As we walk through the museum we can see an example of an 18th century wooden setting. Moving on, we can see a model of a woman repairing fishing net. We can see another example of fishing traps and nets. Located in the center of the room you will see examples of old oil lanterns, there is also models of fishing trawler. Also located on the table is an example of a old Livs Village.
 
The Liepaja Metalurgs Museum, located in New Town, which is located next door to the main office of Liepaja Metalurgs at Brīvības iela 93. 
 
Liepaja Metalurgs, the only metallurgical company in the Baltic States and the biggest processing company in Latvia, leading its history since 1882. The enterprise manufactures low carbon and low alloyed steel products, including reinforcing bars, steel wire, nails and castings.
 
Foundry production includes different products of cast iron, steel, bronze and brass:
  • cast iron manhole hatches for telephone ductwork, the average service life of the hatches is minimum 20 years;
  • cast iron mooring posts for installation on the berthing structures, the average service life of the mooring posts is minimum 25 years;
  • grey cast iron yacht keels, weight 1025 - 1035kg, length 3550mm, width 200mm, height 380mm; 
  • bells of bronze and steel; 
  • other types of castings.
Liepaja Metalurgs Museum takes you back to the founding of Liepaja Metalurga in 1882 through its operations under the Soviet Occupation to it current time.
 
The most famous and must popular museum in Liepaja is The Karosta Navel Port Prison and Museum as we are given a guided tour of the of Karosta Navel Port Prison “Please Note: Only Guided Tours are Available”, Karosta Navel Port Prison is located at Invalīdu iela 4 in Karosta which was the former Secret Soviet Navel Base during the Soviet Occupation. 
 
The Naval Port Prison or Guardhouse; the building was erected about 1900 and until 1997 it served as a place where military persons served their terms for breach of discipline. From the very first years of its existence, it was a place to break people’s lives and suppress their free will. As powers replaced one another, its prisoners changed as well: they included revolutionaries, seamen and non-commissioned officers of the tsarist army, deserters from the German Wehrmacht, and enemies of the people in the Stalinist era, soldiers of both the Soviet army and the Latvian army and other rebels. The newest inscriptions on the cell walls by inmates date to fairly recently, 1997. Mysterious and inexplicable things have been noticed in the guardhouse: the rapping of footsteps, electrical bulbs that unscrew themselves, unaccounted for opening of closed cell doors. Yet encountering seeming apparitions in the prison halls has come as the most unpleasant surprise to many a visitor.
 
The ominous brick building has however been witness to some ghastly crimes over the past century. Originally built as an infirmary in 1900, it was used as a military prison by a long succession of regimes including the Soviets, Nazis and most recently, the Latvians. Indeed, the last prisoner was detained here as recently as 1997, a disturbing thought once you’ve seen the frightening scenes inside. Although the Nazis sentenced ‘criminals’ such as Latvian deserters to death here and executed them outside in the yard, the post-independence Latvian military mostly imprisoned barroom brawlers, drunks and seamen who went AWOL and then usually only for a few days. 
 
A tour of the building will reveal the horrible life lived by the inmates and the graffiti they left behind. Above the door in the solitary confinement cell is a cryptic message: “izeja no elles” or ‘exit from hell.’
 
Guides are also happy to tell you the tale of the ghost that haunts the prison and how doors often swing open by themselves, how light bulbs screw out of their sockets and how visitors and staff have felt the disturbing cold of a presence not of this earth. The haunting was even investigated in an episode of the Sci-Fi Channel’s Ghost Hunters International. They claimed it was one of the most active locations they had ever visited.
 
Visitors can take a simple tour with a guide or audio guide, participate in a reality show in “English” or “German”, spend the night in a cell or do the ultimate and become a prisoner for the night including regular bed checks, verbal abuse by guards in period uniforms and experience the horrors of using the latrine “see website for details”. For participatory events you must call ahead and reserve a time.
 
These are only a few of the many historical sights you will be able to see while visiting Liepaja and its surrounding area. Liepaja during different times through out the year hold festivals and different events. Their largest and one of their most important festival is the mid-summer festival which is the beginning of summer. It is a Latvian National Holiday.
 
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Revised: 06/28/2013 – 16:54:40