Karosta is the old naval port of Latvia’s third largest city Liepāja and is probably most famous for its prison tours, museum and experience tours.
There is plenty more to see however, a swing bridge over the canal with several interesting stories, a virtually empty beach area, gun forts from the time of the Russian Tzarist occupation and the remains of the more recent occupation by the Soviet Union.
One of the main attractions is the Orthodox Cathedral of St Nikolai, the patron saint of sailors and travellers. Constructed in 1903 from a single piece of concrete in just 3 years it is an extremely beautiful building both inside and out.
The Soviets were aetheists and religious worship was discouraged and even forbidden. Due to this, in common with many churches the Cathedral had its ‘insignia‘ of religion such as crosses removed, high buildings were built to surround and hide it and its purpose was changed.
It was eventually used as a sailors club and remained so until the Soviet’s left, this was obviously intended as the greatest insult to the local religious community. Their former place of worship became a place for seamen to get drunk and enjoy themselves probably in a manner that would have frowned upon by a highly religious society.
Thankfully however it has been restored to its former glory and is an impressive site when first glimpsed through the tall surrounding trees with the sun glinting off its polished domes.
More from Latvia – Postcards from Riga, Central Market Tales