Skrunda-1 – Lidumnieki, Latvia - Atlas Obscura
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Lidumnieki, Latvia

Skrunda-1

This abandoned secret city is a crumbling wonderland of Soviet ruins. 

Sitting on the outskirts of the small settlement that shares its name, Skrunda-1 was once a secret Soviet military installation, but has, for years been abandoned to scavengers and the ravages of time, leaving behind nothing but an eerie shell of Cold War-era brutalism. But there may be hope for this ghost town yet.

Skrunda-1 was first built in 1963 as part of a series of Soviet secret cities constructed for various military uses during the Cold War. It was named after the rural settlement located just five miles away, and at its peak, the base was home to some 5,000 Soviet personnel. The main goal of the site and its two large radar installations was to look for missiles coming in from Western Europe. The installation was comprised of dozens of buildings including barracks, a school, administrative centers, and even factories.

When the Soviets were asked to leave Latvia in 1994, a deal was made that allowed the remaining Soviets to operate the base for four more years, which it did, finally vacating in 1998, leaving Skrunda-1 to rot. The Latvians tore down one of the radar towers in celebration of the Soviets leaving, but the rest of the base was left to be picked apart for scrap and crumble with time.

Today the 60-something buildings that remain are ruined shells of their former selves although bits of the original propagandistic art still cling to some of the walls; pictures of Lenin and Cyrillic motivational slogans. But before Skrunda-1 crumbles to dust, the Latvian government has recently taken steps to preserve, and possibly refurbish, what is left of the base. This would allow them to use the site for a variety of things ranging from military training exercises (which may have already begun), and tourist uses.  

Update September 2018: The area is currently under military control and civilian access is forbidden. 

Know Before You Go

10.55 km to the north of Skrunda, in Raņķi parish, Latvia. Published coordinates will take you to the heart of the buildings. The area is owned by local government and visits are organized by them. The area is open every day from 10 to 5 and aticket costs 4€. According to recent plans, the military may again take over and possibly close everything.