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OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

Travel Experiences from the Experts

UNIQUE ATTRACTIONS

The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia

From Mark Hodson Editor of 101shortbreaks.co.uk

Mark Hodson, Editor of 101 Short Breaks gave us his treasure, the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, in Riga:

“Riga is one of Eastern Europe’s most intriguing and vibrant cities, a cosmopolitan capital of wide boulevards, opera houses, coffee shops and late-night bars. At the heart of the medieval old town, encircled by winding cobbled streets, is a picturesque square, and bang in the middle of that square is a staggeringly ugly black windowless building.

“This is the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, an uninviting edifice that opened in 1993 to catalogue the cruelty heaped on the Latvian people over a 50-year period of the 20th Century, first by the Soviet Union then by the Nazis and then again by the Soviets until independence in 1991.

“It may not sound too promising but the museum is fascinating, chilling and deeply affecting. There is a reconstruction of a hut in a Siberian gulag, and drawings by children of frightening train journeys in crowded cattle trucks. Most moving of all are the exhibits that demonstrate the indomitable human spirit, the chess sets and violins secretly constructed by prisoners over many years using the most meagre of materials such as chicken bones and packing cases.

“The museum is free, though visitors are asked to make a donation. More details: