True Lithuania Sights, cities, culture, history and more

Plokštinė Soviet Nuclear Missile Base & Samogitian NP

Soviet nuclear missile base in Plokštinė (part of Samogitian National Park) offers a rare opportunity to enter the shafts where Cold War nuclear missles used to stand ready to be launched any minute.

Once top secret and still reachable only by a gravel road through a forest, this underground military installation was dug by soldiers using only shovels. Multi-storey complex is barely visible from the outside and can be visited only together with a guide (but the tours are frequent in summer). Inside the bunkers you will see command room with some machinery and old posters. The most impressive part of the visit will be a tall nuclear missile shaft, still in a remarkably good condition. Had the World history taken a grimmer path and the Cold War turned "hot", the missiles based here would have wreaked havoc in the United Kingdom.

Fortunately the Soviet Union collapsed and the Plokštinė bunkers remained devoid of weapons of mass destruction and soldiers. In fact, these installations were abandoned much earlier because the Western intelligence learned about their existance.

Less fortunately the post-abandonment neglect meant that thieves broke into the bunkers to steal metal. As a result of their actions the second missile shaft (not visited by tours) no longer has any metal left inside and is flooded by water. However the young Lithuanian state was quick to understand the importance of Plokštinė missile base and much of it was saved for future generations.

Now the Plokštinė base also houses the Europe's only Cold War Museum.

It is the easiest to reach the site by car.

Samogitian National Park

Samogitian National Park surrounds the Plokštinė base. It has numerous lakes. Central village is Plateliai (pop. 1000) where there are restaurants and accommodation opportunities as well as a lake. It has an Užgavėnės museum dedicated to the Carnival-like Lithuanian Christian holiday which has its most fervent traditions in Samogitia. Plateliai and other National Park villages are known for old wooden churches.

Žemaičių Kalvarija (pop. 800) is the region's prime religious center with a Baroque/Classicist church and monastery (1822). The village is given its unique atmosphere by 21 mostly wooden chapels, many located on hilltops. Visiting them in a certain order may help you better imagine the final road of Jesus Christ (this is reenacted by a many pilgrims in a festival every July and archaic Samogitian Christian songs known as "the hills" may then be heard).

A hilltop chapel in Žemaičių Kalvarija. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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