Who doesn’t want to see a formerly top-secret Communist nuclear bunker?
A facility that was designed to keep Albania running after a nuclear attack is the latest relic of the country’s dark Communist past that is being reinvented as a modern tourist attraction.
In its swords-to-ploughshares drive, the Socialist government has already announced plans to open an island fortress to tourists and auction off the country’s decrepit Soviet and Chinese fighter jets.
The small Balkan nation has no end of useless military installations and weaponry, a legacy of the paranoid, isolationist regime that ruled it with an iron fist for about 50 years after the end of World War II.
Fearing invasion by a host of imaginary enemies — imperialists, social-imperialists (as other Communist countries deemed ideologically unsound were termed) or restless, land-hungry neighbors — Albania’s regime had about 700,000 concrete bunkers of all sizes built across the country.
A quarter-century after the Communists’ fall, most are still there, the bigger ones serving as sheep barns, bars, restaurants, public toilets, love nests for furtive couples or even as homes.
The queen of them all — a secret five-story underground extravaganza on the outskirts of the capital Tirana to protect Albania’s army command from nuclear attack — opened to the public two years ago. It has since closed due to funding shortages. Authorities are planning to reopen it this summer.