Liepaja is Latvia’s third largest city and can be found in the far southwest corner of the country right by the coast of the Baltic Sea. The city lies between the sea and a lake and once was a small fishing village. It became a major trading port. The city began to blossom in the early 20th century when lots of lovely parks were created and Art Nouveau buildings built. Unfortunately a great part of the city was destroyed during WWII. During Soviet occupation the naval base here was seized and no Latvian residents were allowed to visit Liepaja. The people living in the city were living isolated from the rest of the country. Today Liepaja has a lot to offer tourist like great architecture, an internationally recognized Blue Flag beach and an exciting and vibrant nightlife. During the summers it’s a popular thing for tourists to do combining beach fun with sightseeing.
For ghost loving tourists or for anyone who is curious it is a must to visit the eerie abandoned prison known as Karosta. It has now become a museum but if you ask around you will find lots of people who will say that it’s haunted. There have been stories of spooky encounters like meeting spirits who grab onto arms and legs, like to open and close doors and even materialize before the living only to suddenly disappear again. This prison has been featured in an episode of Sci-Fi Channel’s popular Ghost Hunters International Series. Investigators have claimed to be attacked by angry spirits and have heard disembodied voices. The reason for the incredible hauntings lie in the fact that at one time people were tortured and executed here under the Nazi and Soviet regimes. It was never a peaceful place and these tortured souls probably keep seeking revenge.
Tourists can take a look at a long system of concrete fortifications that were once part of the Naval Port’s defenses. Here you can walk along the ruins and see buildings, pillboxes and concrete stairways which recede into the sea. There are similar forts to explore in the south of Liepaja at the point where Klaipedas and Ganibu Streets come together.
Many wonderful and interesting churches to visit. Among them St. Anne’s which dates back to the early 1500s. The brick neo-Gothic structure which you see today was created back in 1893. The church has a steeple that reaches 60 meters up into the sky. Popularity has been gained by the impressive baroque altar painting measuring 5.8 by 9.7 meters and the church is also home to the nation’s third largest organ.
Take a look at Liepaja Museum housed in a historical building with its original early 20th century interior still intact. On the ground floor you can see displays of the Stone and Bronze Age with artifacts that were unearthed at local archaeological sites. There is an excellent weapons and jewelry collection that was recovered from a Viking settlement at Grobina and vintage memorabilia from both World Wars. Tourists also delight in the paintings, ethnographic costumes, black and white photographs and the centuries-old Bibles that are on display. Outside you can take a walk in the sculpture garden.
You’ll want to see the Seaside Park which consists of almost 50 hectares of land right beside the beach. This park was created in the 1870s and through the years the most prominent citizens of Liepaja built amazing wooden summer cottages here in the Art Nouveau style. As you walk along Liepu and Dzintaru Streets you will see wonderful 100 year old architecture. The park offers visitors beer gardens and cafes. You can have fun with miniature golf, play tennis, go bowling and enjoy the skate park. For children there is a large playground for hours of fun. In the summertime you can enjoy live performances at the Put Vejini! Or Blow Wind! Concert hall. The local FC Liepaja Metalurgs football matches take place at the stadium here.
You can take a wonderful and relaxing stroll along the Promenade where you can see ships and yachts moored here and take a harbor tour. Tourists enjoy seeing the huge hourglass that is filled with golden amber instead of sand and there is a fountain in the shape of a wave. Along the Promenade there are also different galleries, clubs, shops, and pubs to enjoy.
These are just some of the wonderful things you can expect to see and do in Liepaja. There is a whole lot more you won’t want to pass by. So why not put this city on your travel list.