The Cold War Bunkers of Albania

During the Cold War, Enver Hoxha, the hard-line leader of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, embraced isolationist and paranoid views, leading to the launch of a massive “bunkerization” project to defend the nation in 1968. Over 20 years, nearly 175,000 reinforced concrete bunkers were built across Albania, lining seashores and lakes, and dotting mountain passes, borders, farmland, and towns—at great expense and effort. However, these bunkers were never used as intended: They never sheltered the populace from a Soviet attack or an invasion by a neighbor, though they did see limited use during the Kosovo War and Albanian Civil War in the 1990s. In recent years, a few of the disused structures have been converted into hostels, homes, or museums, and many have been removed altogether, but most continue to slowly decay in place.

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