There is a lot more to discover in the city of Liepāja at the West coast of Latvia: a wide and powder-sanded beach for team building and sports/outdoor activities, beautiful parks with many restored houses — where the traditional wooden houses of Latvia are turned into stunning villas.

It is the largest city in the Kurzeme Region and the third largest city in the country after Riga and Daugavpils. Being an important ice-free port and a centre of textile industry, it has a population of around 70.000 people. Liepāja is known throughout Latvia as “City where the wind is born”, likely because of the constant sea breeze — which is the reason why the largest wind farm in the country was built (33 Enercon Wind Turbines) nearby. Liepaja is called a mecca of the underwear industry, as more than 50 manufacturers are concentrated in Liepāja and some of them export up to 90% of their production. In 2018 there was an international Show/ Forum (organized by LIAA), a both schools and many dressmakers in the city.

After Latvia regained independence with the fall of the Soviet Union, Liepāja has worked hard to change from a military city into a modern port city. The commercial port was re-opened in 1991, and in 1994 the last Russian troops left Liepāja. The city also is the location of Latvia’s largest naval flotilla, Liepāja is rich in different architecture styles and the mix of wooden houses, Art Nouveau buildings, Soviet-era flats together with a number of green parks all around, contribute to the character of the city. The main areas of interest for tourists include the city centre with its many churches, the Seaside park with white sandy beaches and the northern suburb of Karosta, a former secret military encampment which is now a major tourist attraction of Liepāja and the Karosta beaches with their picturesque blasted forts.

Karosta — that is indeed a remarkable tourist attraction and certainly not one to admire for its beauty. It is not re-built, not designed or modernized and it is standing there for a reason! As a memorial for visitors and citizens alike — to remind of lesser fortunate and liberate times, it is looked after by a local group of engaged volunteers. A creepy experience for fraidy cats to visit this former prison — it was used to break the will of military soldiers that haven’t behaved well and it seems the feeling of the tortures executed there are still howling through the dark cells.

Karosta prison by tmf

One of the favourite methods was to lock in the prisoner in a completely dark (!) cell and make them be on their feet for 24 hours or even longer — could the prisoner not fulfil the task of constantly marching loud and thus prove to the guard outside that he did not sit down and rest. When we arrived at the location, we were mustered and had to stand in line to listen to the commands of a grim looking man. This officer in uniform can shape his commands along the “needs” of groups, and he can make you do strange things. Fortunately we were considered to be good girls and had not to do squats or push-ups or any other nasty gymnastics.

Karosta prison “hotel” room

And some more escalation is possible. Besides the creepiness of a pure visit, the sensation can be further increased by the possibility to stay one night in the cells to experience the loneliness and horror first-hand. Not sure if this is an appropriate element for corporate programs, but who knows!

The Karosta project showcases also a little café and shop and a museum of military equipment and “tools” of the times.

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Following are the topics that you will read about in the ongoing series on Latvia and Riga — it is worthwhile to explore them and pick those which are most relevant to your kind of business. You will be able to source some true gems for fresh and new destinations for your Incentive trips or Meetings!

  • Latvia for Intl. Congresses and Conferences
  • Magnetic Latvia – Experiential Hubs for Rebuilding, Architecture and Design

  • Destination Latvia – an abundance of water and nature
  • Sport in Latvia: infrastructure, events and education
  • Arts and Artists — experiencing, discovering and learning about art in Latvia
  • New hotels and restaurants open in Riga and across the country

For any requests you have or help that you require for putting together a MICE program for your clients, contact:

Ieva Gredzena, LIAA (Investment and Development Agency of Latvia) email: Ieva.Gredzena@liaa.gov.lv

Aigars Smiltans of MeetRiga, email: aigars.smiltans@liveriga.lv

Or contact me at tmf dialogue marketing, Johanna Fischer email j.fischer@tmf-dialogue.com

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