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Daugavpils, Latvia

Daugavpils Fortress

Built to ward off Napoleon's army, this city-sized abandoned Russian fort is now perfect for urban exploration. 

Close to the city centre of Daugavpils, Latvia sits a large fortress complex said to be the last bastion-type fortification in the world.

In its day the sweeping complex was well guarded and isolated from rest of the city, creating a kind of city inside a city: Occupying 2 square miles, the fortress includes 10 streets and some 80 buildings.

Daugavpils is located near the border of Lithuania, Belarus and Russia, and the majority of the city’s population speaks Russian. The mighty fortress was originally a Russian military outpost. Plans for the fortress were first laid out in 1772 by Russian Tsar Alexander I, and construction started in 1810 in anticipation of Napoleon’s attack on the Russian Empire.  Two years later the fortress successfully repelled Napoleon’s army.

Although the official count states that more than 1,000 people could live inside the premises, most of the complex is now abandoned and looks like a ghost town. The complex is closed off, but you can find your way and sneak in to many of the abandoned houses, barracks and old hospital.

You can also observe and walk on the old bastions, moats and ramparts, and a former Soviet military academy on the premises. Today all these places are perfect for urban exploring.

The status of the whole complex might change in the nearby future as some of the buildings have already been restored and given a new function (Mark Rothko Art Center is now located in one of the buildings). Still, according to locals the city government has no particular plan of what to do with this piece of history and most of the buildings are still awaiting their fate.