Salaspils Memorial Ensemble
- Type: Monuments and Memorials, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing
- Time to Spend: Less than 1 hour
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South of Riga, the Salaspils Memorial Ensemble commemorates the thousands of victims who died at the area's concentration camp during World War II. Set up about a third of a mile away from the Salaspils train station, the camp was the largest in the Balkans, and is responsible for anywhere between 12,000 and 15,000 deaths, particularly of children.
Now, the site/memorial is hidden in the woods out of plain view. Recent visitors have even commented on how difficult it is to find without proper signage, so here's a tip: Walk the concrete bike path that runs parallel to the train station's tracks from the north, eventually letting you in the area woods. Within 15 minutes you should find yourself in front of the memorial. Many are struck by its non-sensationalized, non-touristy appearance.
At the site, the former buildings have been razed to their foundations, and the small houses for the children have toys and flowers to memorialize the fallen innocents. But the most eye-catching monuments are the three stone giants that convey the agony and strength of the camp's victims. A TripAdvisor traveler reports: "The solitude, the statues, the toys, and the metronome work together to form a memorial which will remain with me. I have visited many historic sites, including Dachau and Auschwitz but this one sums up the suffering more than they do."
The Salaspils Memorial Ensemble is free to tour. For the best experience (and because there's a lot of walking) we strongly suggest you visit when the weather is good.