LIEPAJA

The original settlement at the location of modern Liepāja was founded by Curonian fishermen of Piemare and was known by the name Līva (from the name of the river Līva on which Liepāja was located, which in turn originated from the Livonian word Liiv meaning "sand"). The oldest written text mentioning the name is dated 4 April 1253. The Livonian Order under the aegis of the Teutonic Order established the settlement as the village of Liba(u) in 1263. In 1418 the city was sacked and burned by the Lithuanians. During the 15th century, a part of the trade route from Amsterdam to Moscow passed through Līva and it was known as the "white road to Lyva portus". By 1520 the river Līva had become too shallow for easy navigation, and this negatively influenced on the development of the city.

After Latvia regained independence, Liepāja has worked hard to change from a military city into a modern port city (now marked on European maps after the secrecy of the Soviet period). The commercial port was re-opened in 1991, and in 1994 the last Russian troops left Liepāja. Since then, Liepāja has engaged in international co-operation, has been associated with 10 twin and partner cities and is an active partner in several co-operation networks. Facilities are being improved as the city hosts Latvia's largest naval flotilla, the largest warehouses of ammunition and weapons in the Baltic states, and the main supply centre of the Latvian army. At the beginning of the 21st century many ambitious construction projects were planned for the city, including building the NATO military base, the biggest amusement park in the Baltic states – Baltic Sea Park – and a modern concert hall, "Lielais Dzintars"; but most of these projects have not been realised due to economic and political factors. On the other hand, some of the earlier planned projects were completed. Liepāja's heating network was renovated in cooperation with French company Dalkia and Russian company Gazprom. In 2008 the Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia decided to build the coal cogeneration 400 MW power plant near Liepāja. In 2006, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, a direct descendant of Jacob Kettler visited Liepāja.


Libava fortress

In the beginning of the 20th century, Libava fortress was the most expensive and ambiguous project of the Russian army on the Baltic sea. The massive concrete fortifications with eight cannon batteries was built to protect the city and its population from German attacks. Secret underground passages of the fortress became the most famous Liepāja's urban legend. Nowadays the ruins of the fortress are the popular place for playing paintball.

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