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Ligatne Secret Soviet Bunker

16 September 2016

The Baltics, of course, courtesy of the latter part of the 20th century, abound with post-Soviet memorabilia that beg to be roamed around in, gawped at, and, possibly, ‘grammed into oblivion – we have already written about a few, here, here and here. Ligatne Secret Soviet Bunker now completes our collection of these squarish, gray, chunky reinforced concrete pearls.

Photo by Laika AC

Just the frame of mind you found me in today. Shoot, comrade.

Okay. My off-mike (- bug?) news: This top secret Cold War bunker buried deep beneath a Latvian spa facility is now open for public viewing. Hidden under Latvia’s Ligatne rehab centre, a sort of spa-cum-fitness centre, lies this well-equipped facility that was constructed to shield the Soviet political elite in the unfortunate eventuality of a nuclear attack.

Ah yes. Surely made as a part of an early Five Year Plan.

Mid-range. They actually began planning for this secret Soviet bunker in the late 60s, but the facility was not completed until ‘82. By way of a cover, they first built a sanatorium over ground. However, unbeknownst even to the staff at the rehab center, the site concealed a number of dark secrets. Buried 30 feet beneath the facility lay a bunker: a sinister, self-sustaining, autonomous structure filled to bursting point with state-of-the-art-of-the-day tech and supplies and creature comforts. Incidentally, the Soviets also built one in neighboring Lithuania,  where you can now pay to have a three hour recreation of the full prisoner experience, complete with vicious German shepherds, interrogation, and hard manual labor.

Shame mobiles weren’t around then. Imagine the selfies…

I’d rather not if you don’t mind. The bunker – protected by extra layers of metal sheeting, cement and dirt – had enough room and supplies to sustain the 250 top dog comrades stationed in Latvia for up to three months on its 213,000 square foot area; I reckon we best not try to imagine what they might have looked like had they needed recourse to it.

I’ll give you that.

The bunker wasn’t the only secret on the grounds of the sanatorium either. A shallow pool in front of the spa building was in fact a hidden helipad, and another was camouflaged as a basketball court.

You’ve got to give them full marks for ingenuity there.

Right. Because it was a military defence structure, the bunker fell into the khaki-gloved hands of the Latvian M.O.D. after the Soviet regime collapsed and the comrades left. When Latvia joined NATO, the secret defense did not meet NATO’s exacting standards and the site was taken out of military stock. It is because of this abandonment by the military that the bunker was left in its original condition, complete with all of the old equipment and decoration that it originally had.


And they’ve only just opened it to the public?

Umm, nope. But I thought to reveal it to you only now…for reasons I can’t tell you yet. It was opened to the public in 2003, and has had many a visitor gawp at its rough contours since; join their number and do so yourself on the sixth day of the Baltic Run. Everything inside it looks just like it did the day it was vacated. Suspended in time. Undead. As if hit by a nuclear bomb.


Liked this story? Are you getting that itch to travel and go on an adventure? Then join us on the next Baltic Run. Find a team of like-minded crazies and we’ll see you at the starting line. If you want to join us in the virtual world then drop us a like on Facebook> or follow us on Twitter and Instagram> to keep up with our latest antics.


About the Author


Judit has left the world of teaching to discover new places and write about them.

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