Lasting legacy of Albania’s Cold War paranoia: The 175,000 bunkers which dot the country’s landscape and have been transformed into homes, hostels and museums
Source: Daily Mail
Albania’s Cold War paranoia dots the landscape with 175,000 concrete bunkers which were built at great cost and time for the nuclear Armageddon that never came.
Communist leader Enver Hoxha ordered the ‘bunkerizimi’ throughout the country under his isolationist rule from the 1960s to the 1980s.
They were built in the snow-covered mountains, on sandy beaches, lush meadows, quiet forests and even within the grounds of the country’s most famous hotel.
Hoxha’s breakaway from Nikita Kruschev’s Soviet Union and hostility towards NATO meant he feared airborne attacks from all sides.
The head of state had the bunkers laid out in lines, spreading from central command bunkers which were visible to all the others to allow for communication through slits.
Their concrete was reinforced with steel and iron, and they ranged in size from small two-man gunner boxes to massive domes with underground networks for high-ranking party members and military officers.
They were a colossal drain on Albania’s feeble economy and did not see action until the ferocious Albanian Civil War of the 1990s and the Kosovo War in 1999.
Bullets sprayed across the dome studded landscape during the civil war and citizens fled to the bunkers in terror during the shelling of the Kosovo war.
More than 25 years since the Communists’ fall, large bunkers serve as sheep barns, bars, restaurants, public toilets, hotels, museums and even as homes.
The jewel in the crown is a sprawling five-story subterranean hideaway on the outskirts of the capital Tirana to protect Albania’s army command from nuclear attack.