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Founded by the Livonian Order in the 13th century, the city only really took off with the deepening of the harbour and arrival of a railway track in the 19th century. Tsar Alexander III built a naval port in Liepāja in 1890, becoming home to the first Baltic fleet of Russian submarines. Heavily bombed during WWII, Liepāja became a virtual ghost town in the postwar years. The Soviets used its port as a military base and kept everyone away. After the Iron Curtain fell, life returned, with residents working hard to turn it into the progressive hub it is today.