It is crazy, but we have already come to the end of the season 2017! This year the final race of Stirnu buks will be slightly different form the other – we will end the season in Liepāja, a city, that loves and waits for us and is impatient to show our runners the rough beauty and charm of the Liepāja Military port.
Start/finish: Beberliņi wakepark, Karosta (Liepāja military port). GoogleMap here!
Race schedule: INFO PAGE
Detailed distance maps: bit.ly/KarostasBuks
Why Liepāja – the city of winds? With its white sandy beaches, steep coastline here and there, forests, marshes, lakes, rivers and the most bright folk costume in Latvia? And more than that – the Military port, which is a part of Liepāja, but at the same time – a small world for itself? The largest military territory in the Baltics takes about one third of Liepāja at its Northern part.
The Military port fascinates with its roughness – it is a miraculous, paradoxical and unique place not only in the history and architecture of Latvia, but in the world as well. It was built in the turn of the 19th and 20th century as a military base of the Russian empire – today in the urban environment the military elegance of tsarist Russia and the robust charm of the Soviet era has intertwined. In the Soviet times this territory was a closed area, therefore now it is barely known for the locals themselves.
You may like or dislike the Military port, but it definitely doesn’t leave you unaffected. And if you aren’t sure where to sleep after the race - Premier Traveler Magazine has nominated the Military port prison (Karostas cietums) as one of 10 most extraordinary places of accommodation in the world (World’s 10 Most Unusual Stays). Are you brave enough?
With the help of two locals of Liepāja – Reinis Rozītis, an organizer of Liepāja sport series Izrāviens, and a real roebuck Imants Ločemlis, nordic walking instructor and a chief of local nordic walkers - Stirnu buks had a chance to explore secret paths, abandoned military buildings, sandhills and more.
Karosta – the largest historical military territory in the Baltics, occupies the northern one third of the city. Today Karosta is a spectacular, paradoxical and unique site in the world’s history and architecture reflecting the interaction of Tsarist Russia military elegance and robust Soviet militarism. You may like or dislike it, but Karosta certainly won’t leave you indifferent.
Karosta as an independent city area originated during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1890 to the north of Liepāja city the massive construction of fortifications and a military camp was begun. The official order to start building was given by Russian Tsar Alexander III.
His son, Tsar Nicholas II, named the new base Port of Alexander III. But during the time of the first Latvian independence this place was more and more often referred to as the Kara Osta (War Port). The port of Alexander III was a fully autonomous, populated area with its own infrastructure, electricity power plant, sewage system, church and schools. During the Soviet time Karosta was a closed and covert zone with no admission even for the citizens of Liepāja.
The Northern Forts are a part of Liepāja's fortress. The fortress was built at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of 20th century to provide the protection of Liepāja's naval base in case of enemy attack. The line of the outer fortification system surrounded the whole city.
In November of 1908, Tsar Nicholas II approved a decision to shut down the sea fortress in Liepāja. Some of the cannons were dismounted and brought to the Kaunas fortress in Lithuania, others were melted. There was an attempt to blow up the gun batteries, the underground structures and the gunpowder depots but this did not prove effective. So nowadays we can still see the remains of the newest and the most up-to-date fortress of the Tsar's Russia.
The St.Nicholas Cathedral is the visual and spiritual dominant of the whole Karosta area. The Cathedral has been designed and erected in the style of the 17th century Russian orthodox churches with central and four side cupolas symbolising Christ and four Apostles.
Erection of the Cathedral began in 1901. That same year the Russian Tsar Nicholas II with his family members, courtiers and supreme officers took part in the solemn ceremony of consecration of the foundation stone of the Cathedral. The first service in St.Nicholas Cathedral and its consecration took place in 1903. The Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his family and courtiers also took part in this ceremony.
On the outbreak of World War I, numerous items were evacuated to Russia including the bells and icons, and the valuables that had were left were pillaged by the German occupiers.
The garrison prison of Liepāja's Karosta was built at the beginning of the 20th century as a Navy hospital but has never been used as a hospital. In all times it has been used as a short term disciplinary penalty place for navy sailors and non - commissioned officers since the beginning of the 20th century.
Garrison sailors, who participated in the events of the revolution in 1905, served their sentence in the prison.
The building has been used as a short term disciplinary penalty place for sailors and non-commissioned officers by both the Soviet and Latvian Navy. The last of the convicts have scratched calendars, drawings, slogans, catchwords and messages on the walls of the cells just a short time ago, in 1997.
The swing bridge in Karosta, one of the oldest in Liepāja and Latvia, is a prominent example of engineering. The design of the bridge was after French engineer Alexander Gustav Eifel (1832 -1923) drawings.
The bridge has two similar girders which are parted by 90°. It takes about 4-5 minutes to apply the operation by means of an electric motor or a windlass.
The bridge has been damaged several times. In 2006 the northern part of the bridge was damaged by the tanker ship "Anna", sailing under Georgian flag. Several times a day the bridge is open for ship traffic.
This hydro technical construction is closely connected with building of Liepāja's Navy fortress and Naval Port construction, and it is a very significant part of it. It is 1800 meters long and 7.35 meters wide.
The Northern breakwater was built at the end of 19th century.
Who can you surprise by staying overnight at a hotel? Here you have a chance to spend the night in a prison which is considered to be even more impressive than the Alcatraz in the USA, to sleep on a prison bunk or an iron bed, and to have a prison meal.
To spend a night in the Karosta prison you have to make the bookings by telephone +371 26369470 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The Northern Forts are a part of Liepāja’s fortress. We offer an opportunity to take a guided tour of the Northern Forts of the Naval Port fortress and see underground labyrinths by torchlight. Approximate duration 1.5 hour.
The tour can be arranged by prior request by phone +371 26369470.
The Liepāja beach has been a popular swimming location since the 1860s, when the Russian tsars and their retinues began to visit here. The beach is 50 to 80 m wide when the wind is calm, and it has white fine sand which amazes even those people who have been to the world's most famous beach resorts. After a strong wind you can find some pieces of amber washed ashore. Only be careful - occasionally you can come across the so-called "false amber". These are highly flammable pieces of phosphorus which got into the sea when the Soviet military destroyed phosphorus bombs in the seaside village of Pape 50 km to the south of Liepāja.
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