Take a Historical Prison Tour in Latvia
Karosta Prison was built over 100 years ago and served as a short term disciplinary penalty place for sailors and non-commissioned officers by both the Soviet and Latvian Navy. The walls of the prison cells are covered with scratched calendars, drawings, and messages. No one has ever escaped, and now you can see why during a historical prison tour!
Karosta Prison stopped functioning as a penitentiary in 1997, and is now the only European military prison open to tourists. Stop by for a quick prison tour, experience life as an inmate, or play their “Escape for USSR” spy game. You can even stay overnight if you dare! Ghost Hunters International called Karosta Prison the most ghost-haunted place in the world. I’m too much of a wuss for that, but if your family stays, I totally want to hear about it!
Where: Liepāja, Latvia
Ages: Their basic hour-long excursions are open to all ages. There are several other excursions where you can experience what life was like for inmates, and the minimum age for those excursions is 10-12 years old.
Info: Karosta Prison is open for guided excursions only, and they have a bunch to choose from! If you’re uncertain which excursion is best for you, I recommend checking out their reviews on TripAdvisor , as many people talk about their experiences. Check their website for open hours, as hours vary throughout the year. Groups of 10+ should book ahead. Excursions in German and Lithuanian are available by prior request.
For those just wanting to see the prison and learn about it’s history and interesting events, hour-long tours begin every hour on the hour. Cost for this excursion is €4.50.
Tour With Elements of Spectacle
This hour-long prison tour will give you a small taste of life as an inmate, but is less intense than their “Behind Bars” show. You’ll need to maintain high discipline, take part in a military drill, and you may even be put inside of a prison cell. Cost for this excursion is €6.
Behind Bars Show
During the Behind Bars Show, participants will be treated as detainees and will need to maintain high discipline. As you live the life of a prisoner, you’ll learn all about the history of the prison. Beware though- if you disobey the guards, you may have to do physical exercises or clean the guardhouse! Participants need to be ages 12+ and need to sign a written agreement agreeing to the conditions of the show. The show will last 1.5-2 hours. Cost is €8.50.
Northern Forts & Underground Labyrinths
The Northern Forts were built at the end of the 19th century to protect Liepāja’s naval base from enemy attack. These forts are part of the fortification system that surround the whole city. Underneath the Northern Forts are a series of underground labyrinths. You can take a 1.5 hour tour of the Northern Forts and see the underground labyrinths by torchlight, or participate in the “labyrinth of senses” where your family works as a team to complete tasks while having one of your senses “taken away.”
Spend the Night at Karosta Prison
There are two options for spending the night at Karosta Prison. For €15 per person, you’ll sleep overnight on a prison bunk and be served prison meals. For those looking for a more extreme experience, you can participate in their overnight show and live the life of a detainee on a dismal night. This option is €17 per person and participants will need to sign an agreement to the conditions of the show.
“Escape from the USSR” Spy Game
Go back 30 years into the past and learn about the era of soviet occupation when it was almost impossible for soviet citizens to legally get out of the USSR. This game takes place on the strictly controlled USSR border zone. Working as a team, participants will cross a number of obstacles to find a friend who is unable to get to safety alone. You’ll need to move silently while running and hiding from the border guards to get your team to safety at a submarine. If anyone is noticed by the border guards, an alarm will sound and your operation will be a failure!
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