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Image for Latvia’s Jurmala region: soviet holiday homes to Neverland (12 images)

Latvia’s Jurmala region: soviet holiday homes to Neverland (12 images)

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The region outside Riga has long been associated with health resorts, sanatoriums and spas. During the country’s time as a soviet satellite, it attracted many high-ranking party officers


You most probably know the former soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev from the annals of modern art history; he features on the left in a mural on the Berlin wall of the 'communist kiss' with east German leader Erick Honecker

(Image: ©Alex Jackson)

Brezhnev, who died 17 years ago exactly in November 1982, had a holiday home in Jurmala. In the picture, an idea of what it might have looked like

(Image: ©Alex Jackson)

Many parts of Jurmala remain favoured holiday destinations, especially with the lovely 33km stretch of beaches

Nekurzeme/ 'Neverland' (Image: ©Alex Jackson)

But times change. An eerie, almost apocalyptic, corner of the town of Kemeri has become a forgotten relic of the region’s past. The word Nekurzeme, which is Latvian for ‘Neverland’, is scrawled on one bare wall, pregnant with biting sarcasm and black humour

(Image: ©Alex Jackson)

Just beyond pastel-coloured wooden houses...

(Image: ©Alex Jackson)

...stoops an anaemic high-rise block

(Image: ©Alex Jackson)

Dodging the open man-holes (the stolen covers sold for scrap), passing street lights stripped of bulbs and wiring, then pushing through head-high grasses at the end of a dirt track...

(Image: ©Alex Jackson)

... a huge concrete complex sits decrepit in a birdless silence that’s broken only by the wind groaning through its weathered skeleton

(Image: ©Alex Jackson)

Soviet construction began in the late eighties to provide accommodation for visitors to the local curative waters. But it was a victim of shifting politics

The city that never will be (Image: ©Alex Jackson)

With Latvia’s 1991 independence, the state-funding of the Old Regime disappeared. The site, along with its tourists, jobs and income, never materialised

(Image: ©Alex Jackson)

Today, it has been reclaimed by local youths. Colourful paintball shots dot the faded corridors and courtyards, the only indications of life and vibrancy

(Image: ©Alex Jackson) a few tired trees and scrubs that have, somehow, sprung up in third storey rooms and concrete concourses