Over time Latvia has accumulated a diverse military heritage that was previously well guarded and hidden. Especially along the coast, which was a convenient location for the secret bases of the Russian army, there is a military heritage that provides an insight into the Soviet times. One of the brightest examples is found in Irbene, which is located almost 200 km from Riga.
The radio telescope was built in the 1960s in the USSR as an astronomy and communications center to spy on communications in the west. In the 1990s, after Latvia regained its independence, Latvia took over the secret object from the Russian army. Now it is used in astronomy, research purposes and participates in international projects. Now its Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Center which is located in Irbene, a former Soviet army town. Here you can still see a 32 meters fully rotatable parabolic antenna RT-32, which is the largest in Northern Europe and the eighth largest in the world, as well as the second antenna which is 16 meters (RT-16) nowadays both, are used for scientific purposes.
This tour will be guided tour and it’s forbidden to move around the area without the guide. On the tour, we will take a walk around the territory and also in the underground tunnel. After the tour, we will be ready to jump in the Land Rover Defender or GAZ 66 (depending on the number of people) and enjoy the ride. This road will take us through the bog and forest, the same road the Russian army used for movement. On the way, we will make a few stops and if we are lucky, maybe to pick some healthy berries we can find in the woods.
We will finish our ride at the forest cafe where you will have the chance to try pizza baked in an open-air oven and other goods with a picturesque view. After a long day full of discovery and new knowledge gained we will be ready to head back to Riga.