Latvian Ruins No 2

This hole in the Earth on Radio iela is one of several dozen Cold War-era bomb shelters right in the heart of Riga. Some of these havens from Armageddon are today shooting ranges or computer server warehouses, and for a while this one was the office of a translation agency. (I went inside once for a work meeting – the views were… unspectacular.) Last year there were optimistic “for rent” signs outside, but these are gone and the place now has an identity crisis befitting a true ruin.

At least the area above is nicely landscaped and in a pretty location next to the city canal. So you can sit on the grass amongst the concrete ventilation shafts and thank the Almighty or luck that the Big One never dropped.

An intriguing bit of local history. On the night of 5 December 1963 – just months after the Cuban missile crisis, when fallout shelters were on many minds, a young Latvian named Bruno Javoišs scaled a 100-metre high radio mast across the road and hoisted the Latvian flag. The KGB was waiting for him when he got down, but the pole was so icy they couldn’t get the flag down for 24 hours as no one else had the guts to shimmy up.

If the city gave me the keys to the bunker, I’d turn it into a Museum of Noble Gestures - dedicated to people like Bruno who decide to live rather than cowering in the dark.