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Skrunda Soviet military base and secret city So secret that even the Soviet’s military construction teams did not know what they were building

Skrunda Soviet military base and secret city

Skrunda, Latvia


  • SPACE TYPE: Barrack or base, Other


Tags: base, Latvia, military, Totally Lost 2015

The small town of Skrunda, 150 km from Riga in Latvia, was the site of two HEN HOUSE radars built in the 1960s. Construction of a PECHORA [Daryal] class large phased array radar at the so-called “northern center” began in 1984. According to some news reports (Wash Times 18 Aug 86), the facility was one of three radars of this type the construction of which was initially detected by Western intelligence in 1986. The 60-meter structure was to have been one of the most important Soviet stations for listening to objects in space. At the beginning of the 1990’s, construction of this Daryal station was put on hold.

The accord on renting the Soviet-period Skrunda station for an annual five million dollars ended on 31 August 1998. In June 1998 Col. Gen. Vladimir Yakovlev, commander-in-chief of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces said that the closure of the HEN HOUSE missile attack early warning system in Skrunda, Latvia, will be “a loss of important monitoring parameters” in the northeast but means are available to offset the loss. A similar station under construction in Baranovichi, Belarus, will resolve all the problems caused by the closure of the Skrunda station, Yakovlev said. Other radars will cover the sector normally covered by the Skrunda station for as long as the Baranovichi station is under construction, Yakovlev said. Apart from Skrunde, Russia has its ground-based radar stations in Sevastopol, Ukraine; Mukachevo, Ukraine; Balkhash, Kazakhstan; Gabala, Azerbaijan, and in Murmansk, Pechora and Irkutsk in its own territory.

Russia fully gave over territory of the Skrunda radar station to Latvia in October 1999, thus halting operation of the last Russian military facility in Latvia.

The Skrunda complex still includes more than 60 buildings, though most were stripped bare when Russian forces left. In January 2001 a company in Latvia said it planned to turn the former radar base into a recreation center with an array of restaurants, a hotel and an amusement park.

The construction of the base was rumoured to be so secret that even the Soviet’s military construction teams did not know what they were building.

Today it sits slowly decaying and falling down.



Ph. Ambre Arrivé

CONTRIBUTOR: Ambre Arrivé, Nicola Bertellotti and Chris Shepherd