Ligatne Secret Soviet Bunker – Ligatne, Latvia - Atlas Obscura

Ligatne Secret Soviet Bunker

Ligatne, Latvia

A top secret Cold War bunker hidden beneath a Latvian spa facility is now open for tours. 


Deep beneath Latvia’s “Ligatne” rehabilitation centre, a sort of spa centre, is a well-equipped facility that was built to protect the Soviet political elite in case of a less-relaxing nuclear attack.

Planning for the hidden stronghold actually began in the late 1960s, but the Soviet facility was not completed until 1982. A sanatorium was built as though nothing was unusual about it, but unbeknownst even to the workers at the rehabilitation center, the site held a number of secrets. Buried 30 feet beneath the building above, the bunker was a powerful, autonomous, self-sustaining structure filled with state-of-the-art-of-the-day equipment and supplies. The 213,000 square foot hideout could support 250 people for up to three months in the case of a nuclear attack, and was protected beneath layers of dirt, cement, and metal plate. The plan was for the Soviet leadership in Latvia to retreat to the bunker should anyone drop the bomb. 

The bunker wasn’t the only secret on the grounds either. A shallow reflecting pool in front of the spa building was actually a hidden helipad, and another was camouflaged as a basketball court. The Soviets called the secret redoubt, Pansionat, The Pention House. 

Since it was a military defense structure, the bunker reverted to the Latvian Ministry of Defense after the Soviet regime ended. When Latvia joined NATO, the secret defense did not measure up to NATO s standards and the site was taken out of military control. Thanks to this abandonment by the military, the bunker was left in its original condition, with all of the old equipment and decoration that it originally had. 

The former secret facility was opened to the public in 2003, and can now enter the strange Stalinist halls that look like they have not only been protected from radiation, but time as well.

Know Before You Go

The bunker is up in the forested area of Skalupes.

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