In Tirana: some bunkers in the city center
Over 750,000 bunkers were built under the direction of Communist dictator Enver Hoxha, who ruled Albania as one of the most isolationist Stalinists from the end of World War II until his death in 1985.
According to the Atlas Obscura Guide “starting as a Soviet ally, Hoxha declared the USSR to be revisionist and anti-Marxist after the death of Stalin, and soon all of the Warsaw Pact nations ended their allegiance with Albania. Hoxha then took China as Albania’s ally, which only lasted until 1977, after which he tried to make the country self-sufficient.
During his control of the country, Hoxha banned religion, foreign travel, and often used his secret police to stop any dissent. Almost a quarter of the budget went to the military, much of it spent on building bunkers. The prototype for the bunkers was built in the 1950s, with the chief engineer assuring Hoxha that it would withstand a full assault from a tank. Hoxha decided to test it, with the engineer inside, and when he emerged unscathed from the attack mass production began.
Fearing an invasion from his former Soviet allies or NATO, Hoxha had enough concrete and steel bunkers built to stop an army of millions. They grew like sinister gray mushrooms from the mountains to the coastline, sprouting up in neighborhoods, fields, playgrounds, cemeteries, and on beaches.
They created a permanent sense of paranoia for Albanians who encountered their sniper windows at every turn; but the enemy never came. Decades after the end of Hoxha’s totalitarian regime, the bunkers still scar the landscape. While a few have been turned into hotels or homes by creative Albanians, most are abandoned and overtaken by weeds, only occupied by the desperate in search of shelter. They clutter Albania’s hilly landscape, dotting nearly every view in the small country’s 11,100 square miles."
These photos were taken in August 2018 and show a selection of bunkers in Tirana city center. One of them houses the space Bunk’Art 2.
Bunk'Art 2 contains an Anti-Atomic bunker of Interior Ministry of Communist era that was projected for the governance of Tirana in case of war The space contains more information about the Albanian Police of the time but also about the Prisons, the Working camps and the victims of communism .
A second bunker is part of the memorial Postbllok, which is placed at the entrance of the former off-limits neighborhood where Albania’s Communist elite used to reside. This memorial also houses a 2.6-ton graffiti-covered slab fragment of the Berlin wall and some concrete pillars from the mine at Spac, where many alleged opponents of the Communist regime were incarcerated and had to perform forced labour.
Two other bunkers are placed in the park close to this memorial while one of the mushroom sculptures placed in the city center seems to offer a satirical interpretation of these bunkers.