“TheCeļotājs” –
Russian Tsar’s Remnants of Karosta Naval Port

 
Introduction and History of Karosta Naval Port
 
By curiosity or on occasion, business or entertainment you may now find yourself in a special part of Liepāja called Karosta or Naval Port. This is a really unique and rare site not only for Latvia but also the historical, architectural and urban construction framework worldwide. The Naval Port of Liepaja may be featured as a bright sample of imperialist ambition of the super powers in the eve of the World War I. Though the place later became rather left behind the scenes of the great historical events during those harsh years, it may nowadays serve for revealing a true picture of what military intentions of the time had performed on the cozy shore of the Baltic Sea beside Liepāja The structures of Karosta were erected during the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a principal naval support for the Russian Baltic Navy. The Liepāja Naval Base was supposed to act against the Germany Kaiser in case of a very probable warfare incident. 
 
It was on the 15th of January in 1890 that Alexander III, the Tsar of Russia, made up his mind to have a new big naval fortress constructed here. Liepāja was girt by a solid circle of coastal gunnery batteries, redans and linnets, fort and floating stand positions. To the idea of the Army and Navy Commanders, Liepāja had to become the major naval port of the Russian Empire over the Baltic Sea. It was then that the 3.5 km long Naval Port Canal was extended. As from 1898 about 30 naval ships were consistently keeping watch in the port waters and roadstead. The construction of Naval Port gave significant in common development of Liepāja’s port infrastructure. Probably the Breakwaters, Northern and Distributive wave breakers and Sea Gate would be far and dreamlike project. 
 
The Liepāja Karosts structure was laid out by outstanding designers of the Russian architecture school and famous urban construction officers of the day. The fair buildings have been designed and erected in consent with the prevailing styles of that time; the Russian art nouveau, historical, national romanticism and satiated eclecticism. 
 
The World War I had stationed a large number of Russian military servicemen in Karosta, the civil residents were mainly the family members of the officers, the builders and the infrastructure maintenance stall. The area of Karosta developed quite separately from the historical, ethnic and mental center of Liepāja, as a remote Russian zone that was organized quite differently from the town core. The officers and officials, having been educated and representing the Slavs’ culture and Orthodox sense of beauty, made in effort to create something like the native atmosphere around them in Liepāja. Thus, the space layout and the structure traits in Karosta have been developed as a background to make up for the spiritual and cultural needs of the residents. 
 
Although, we explore documents, there is a question about construction costs of the war city, the fortress and the port without an answer. Since 1888 when in the official correspondence of Russian Empire the name “Libavskii Voennii Port” shows up “Liepaja Naval Port, Russian”, there are different numbers, from 45 to 83 million Golden Rubles. If we take a look at Karosta heritage, we can come to a conclusion that the number could be even larger. 
 
During the 1920s and 1930s, the ground troops and naval forces of the Latvian Army were located in Karosta. A number of civilian residents lived there too. Then in October 1939, the Soviet Navy took possession of the area. They stayed here after World War II as well. Karosta of Liepāja became a closed and covert zone with no admission for civilian people. Beside the military persons, their family members and retired warriors resided at Karosta as well. In May 1994 the structures and buildings of Karosta were given in charge of the Latvian authorities. 
 
Today, the community of Karosta comprises about 8 thousand inhabitants. 
 
Finally, the previous Naval Port, as a unique environmental and historical site, is step by step becoming a place for tourism and sightseeing, for architectural history and research as well as for art workshops, for recreation and entertainment.

Revised 12/22/2012 – 16:41:35