Country Holidays
Interreg V-A — Estonia–Latvia

New Topic for Summer Travel: Military Heritage in Latvia and Estonia

05/26/2021

This summer we are inviting travellers to visit locations where important events in the history of Latvia and Estonia occurred from the beginning of World War I and up to the declaration of the two countries' independence in 1918, and then onward to the restoration of their independence in 1990/1991.  More than 300 destinations in Latvia and Estonia relate to military heritage - museums, fortifications, military equipment, trails, bunkers, battle sites, military towns, infrastructure and memorial sites.


Latvia and Estonia have much in common in historical terms, starting with their joint struggle to achieve independence and passing through both world wars and the Soviet Era, when the two countries represented the Western border of the Iron Curtain.  Many military heritage locations have been adapted for tourism purposes so that this history is remembered.  There are modern exhibitions, exciting experiences and surprising stories along the way.

A brochure and map of military heritage trips

We have released a new map with 150 interesting military heritage destinations in Latvia and Estonia.  Among these are large and well-appointed former military bases, where extensive exhibitions have been organised.  Tours are available with the help of guides.  There are also outdoor destinations such as battlefields, trenches and the bunkers of the so-called "Forest brothers" (guerrillas who continued the struggle against the Soviet occupation after World War II).  Visits to these locations can be combined with hikes in the forest and along nature trails.

Each location is related to a specific period in history:

•    World War I/Wars of Independence (1914-1920);
•    World War II (1939-1945);
•    National partisan movement – forest brothers (1944-~1957);
•    Under Soviet occupation/ on the way to the restoration of Independence (1945-1991).

The periods of history are briefly described in the brochure that is offered along with the map.  The brochure was written in partnership with historians in Latvia and Estonia, and it contains information about battle reconstruction events, military parades and independence-related holidays in the two countries.

The map and brochure can be downloaded at https://militaryheritagetourism.info/en/info/publications. It is available in Latvian, English, Estonian, German and Russian.  A paper version of the map and brochure can be received at:

•    Tourism information centres, tourism information providers in several local government territories, as well as most military heritage tourism destinations in Latvia;
•    Tourism information centres, the Estonian War Museum in Viimsi, as well as military tourism destinations and tourism companies in Estonia.

Military heritage sites preparing for the tourist season

Several military objects have been much improved in preparation for the upcoming tourist season.  Just a few examples in Latvia and Estonia:

•    On April 23, 2021, at the beginning of the season, the firing adjustment tower of the Ventspils 46th Coastal Defence Battery was opened to visitors.  The tower has been completely restored, and it now offers a great view of the surrounding area while also offering lots of information about history.  Visitors have access to an external viewing platform with a lovely view of the sea.  Alongside the tower is an information stand with a QR code.  The relevant mobile app offers an animated version of historical events.
•    The Olaine Museum of History and Art has substantially expanded its World War I history information route.  Currently, construction work has been completed along the route, and this involved a reconstruction of a former military dugout.  There is now a stylised concrete cabinet with objects that have been found during archaeological digs.  The hiking pier has been lengthened, and there is a new information stand with information from the history research.
•    The outdoor exhibition at the More Battle Museum has had an installed fence, with exhibits limited with decorative boundaries and several gravel pathways and foundations for exhibits put in place so that visitors can access and view the exhibits much more conveniently.  The traditional favourite has always been a Soviet T-34 army tank.
•    On Saaremaa Island in Estonia, military history pathway and information stands have been installed alongside the highest peak on the island - the Panga cliff.  The focus is on events during the World War II in these locations.
•    The former Kudani border control facility has been restored, and a recreational area has been created at the former Spithami radar station in western Estonia.  Both destinations feature information stands for visitors.
•    Visitors to the Osmussaar Island can visit a World War II gunfire control tower, as well as 180 and 130 mm calibre coastal defence battery cannons.  Barriers have been installed for the safety of visitors, and the shafts of the tower have been covered up.  There are information stands on the island, as well.
•    The military museum at Hiiumaa is at a former border control facility.  In the museum additional rooms are restored, and its main exhibition has been expanded.  A new exhibition focuses on Soviet-era radio and radar equipment. Visitors can tour the coastal defence infrastructure of the island and look at various examples of weapons and munitions.  

The military heritage locations at this time are operating in full compliance with epidemiological safety requirements in Latvia and Estonia.  Contact each destination in advance to learn whether it is open and, if so, under what circumstances you can visit it.  Each place on the map contains a name, a short description, an address and a phone number.  There is no address or phone number for outdoor locations such as battlegrounds and memorial sites.  GPS coordinates are specified for such locations.

The military heritage tourism Internet site

We regularly update our military heritage tourism site at https://militaryheritagetourism.info.  It currently has information about 300 destinations and a map.  Information is supplemented with new destinations and related historical descriptions and memory stories.

We invite all visitors to preserve this historical heritage and to supplement information about military heritage locations if you have information about objects, stories, photographs, travel experiences or historical facts which relate to the heritage.  Contact us at military@celotajs.lv.  We wish everyone successful trips that are rife with new discoveries!
 

The "Latvian - Estonian Common Military Heritage Tourism Product (EST-LAT156)" project is co-financed by the European Union's Structural and Investment Fund with the target trans-frontier project "European Territorial Cooperation."

This information reflects the views of the author. The managing authority of the programme is not liable for how this information may be used.


See other news ...

This site reflects the views of the author. The managing authority of the programme is not liable for how this information may be used.