Originally intended as an infirmary, for most of the 20th century Karosta Prison was actually used as a Nazi and Soviet military prison, in which hundreds of Latvian deserters were housed, sent to solitary confinement, or simply shot dead.
Today, guards still walk Karosta’s halls and courageous people occupy its cells—even though the prison has been obsolete for decades. Prisoners have been replaced by tourists looking for an authentic jail experience in the form of a “boutique hotel.”
On a visit to Karosta, visitors can take a quick guided tour, or opt for the full Karosta experience, which includes prisoner garb, interrogation, harassment and, finally, being locked into a cold cell for a night literally in prison.
Before embarking on the full prison experience, tourists are made aware that disobedience in the prison could result in insult or even physical punishment by means of exercise or cleaning. They are then required to sign an agreement. Be warned: Not all of the guards are completely fluent in English, and American visitors are often surprised by the amount of abuse they receive.
Other than its living inhabitants, Karosta Prison is said to house the spirits of many who died within its walls. So if you see a lightbulb unscrew or your cell door opens by itself, the culprit may in fact be a fellow prisoner from another era, trying to help you escape.