Thursday 6 June 2024

Exploring Riga

Excellent morning sightseeing around Riga although this cycle path that seemed to turn into a ski jump was rather worrying.

There is a wide river through the centre of the town with a very austere looking building dominating the opposite bank. Eventually our walk took us right past it and it turned out to be the national library - not my first guess.

In a residential area we found a beautiful Russian Orthodox church with amazing onion domes.

Back to the old town and it is full of art deco style buildings. It is a lovely area with lots of shops, cafés, bars and restaurants.

This next building is called the Corner House and also looks nice from the outside, but was actually the KGB headquarters from 1940 until 1991.

We booked on to the guided tour and walked through an ordinary looking door into a world of horrors.

This was where the KGB interrogated, tortured, imprisoned and in at least 196 instances, executed Latvians.

This was an interrogation room, with a big portrait of Stalin on the wall and a one way mirror with a secret room behind it to watch the proceedings.

We also went down into the huge basement where prisoners were held. Our guide had a habit of slamming all of the doors shut really loudly, and at one stage he squashed me and seven other women into a tiny cupboard and closed the door very briefly.

He explained that if people didn't talk straight away then they would leave them like this in the dark for three days with no food or water before interrogating them again.

Finally we stood in the room where the executions took place, and saw the bullet holes in the walls marked with coloured stickers. Our guide who was in his 50's told us that the day in 1991 that Latvia gained it's freedom from the Soviets was the best day of his life. It was very moving.

He then opened another door and said that like him we were very lucky and were free to leave.

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