People love ghost towns. There is something about completely abandoned places that is so attractive to some people, regardless if some of these objects are dangerous. Typically, the holy grail of urban exploration is Pripyat in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine. However, if you want to see a completely abandoned Soviet town, which is in relatively good shape and does not ooze with radiation, you should go to Latvia.
Skrunda-1 (later Skrunda-2) was the name of a small closed town, built for military personnel of a radar system in Latvia. The object itself began its life in 1963, when Soviets started building the first radar in the area. It was finished in 1968, but then construction of another, bigger and better one was started. Soon it was clear that facilities need personnel to protect and run them and it would be better for them to have their own closed town.
In 1980 over 600 families already lived in Skrunda military town, but it continued growing. Sauna, hospital, kindergarten, gym, garage, big water tower and many other facilities were built. However, vivid life in Skrunda did not last forever. Soviet Union collapsed and as Latvia regained its independence it was clear that Soviet troops and their equipment cannot stay there forever.
In 1994 Latvia and Russia signed an agreement, according to which Russian troops had to move out until 1998. Russia tried to negotiate and extend this time for two more years, until the radar system in Belarus is going to be finished. But Riga did not back off and with pressure from all Baltic States Russian troops had to leave and abandon their town.
Latvians seem to enjoy having a large playground
One of the radar was demolished back in 1995. It was a large Daryal radar unit – one of the most advanced radar systems in Soviet Union. US actually partially funded the demolition and it was an American company that was hired to bring radar to the ground. This, of course, was achieved with a spectacular blast that many Latvians enjoy seeing.
Skrunda-1 was abandoned and quickly became popular between thieves and vandals. All metal that could be sold as scraps was scavenged, windows were broken, furniture and everything that could be reused was stolen. However, the site also became popular between tourists. They started coming to see the ghost town and there really aren’t many of them in the area.
Here are some pictures from the Skrunda-1 town.
From 2016 Skrunda Municipality, which currently owns the town, started charging 4 euros for the entrance to the military town. No preparations were done in order to make it more tourist-friendly. There is broken glass everywhere, as well as some sharp metal rods poking out from the walls. Some daredevils climb on top of the water tower to look over the territory better, but as everything is rusting away that really isn’t safe.
Should you go there? It depends. If you want to see what life used to be in Soviet Union – there is nothing left for you. It also has little to do with military history. Sure it was built as a complex for military personnel, but now it is just a deserted town.
But if you like that kind of thing, there are few places like this in the world. You really can feel the spooky aura of post-apocalyptic world.