Creepy Cold War Bunkers You Can Visit Today

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Who doesn’t love a little creepy Cold War history? While every the citizens of every country feared nuclear attack during this era, the top men in power were looking for ways to protect themselves for long periods of time. They knew this required lots of supplies, lots of secrecy and one very well-chosen location. Though the Cold War did not result in an all-out, world-destroying apocalypse, it did leave us with a few interesting architectural features. Check out a few of these bunkers that you can still visit today.

1. The Greenbrier

While not the creepiest bunker on our list, the Greenbrier bunker is certainly unusual, and definitely posher than most. Located deep in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia, the Greenbrier is actually an ultra-luxury resort that caters to elite travelers and boasts a history stretching back to 1778. Many a president have stayed at the Greenbrier, but the government had a different idea for the property during the Cold War. In the 1950s, the government asked the resort for permission to build a bunker on the premises. It would be used in the event of a nuclear attack, and would house members of Congress.

The Greenbrier bunker shown in the 1930s

The Greenbrier shown in the 1930s, before it would have received the additional wing that housed the secret government bunker.

The bunker was part of a program called Project Greek Island and it required that, in the event of a nuclear attack, the resort hand over not only the bunker but the entire property to the government. The bunker has a dormitory, hospital and kitchen, as well as a broadcasting room that has several backdrops which could be used to give the illusion that the speaker was still in D.C. There were additionally auditoriums for congressional sessions.

The bunker was never used during the 30 years it was kept ready for action if need be. A journalist actually broke the news of the bunker in the early 90s, and, after that, the government decommissioned it.

Guests at the hotel, as well as the general public, are able to tour the Greenbrier bunker easily. Just call and reserve your spot on one of the daily 90-minute bunker visits.

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2. Bunker-42

Obviously the United States was not the only country during the war that was preparing for nuclear disaster. Russia was doing the same, and the Tangansky Protected Command Point in Moscow can still be visited today, 213 feet below ground. Built in the 1950s, it’s located right next to a Moscow subway station and built in the same manner, full of winding and twisting tunnels. While Greenbrier was not in use during the Cold War, the Soviets most definitely made good use of Bunker-42.

In 1956, it acted as not only a command post headquarters, but also as a communications station, with staff changing out every 24 hours, and working short shifts to prevent anxiety. Most held other government jobs in addition to their work in the bunker, though, causing them to work an abnormal amount of hours. In the 60s, the bunker became outfitted with the supplies needed to live there for an extended amount of time, enough for 3,000 individuals living for 90 days.

The bunker was declassified in 1995, and now is privately owned. It was converted into a Cold War museum and you can tour the expansive subway-like tunnels. That is, of course, if you can find the entrance, which is disguised to look like the mundane buildings surrounding it.

The hidden entrance to the Cold War museum located in a Moscow bunker.

The hidden entrance to the Cold War museum located in a Moscow bunker.

The 75,000-square-foot space offers enough area to house 35 average-sized private residences. Inside, visitors can then simulate an eerily realistic nuclear strike against top U.S. cities.

3. Tito’s Bunker

In Bosnia, the Atomska Ratna Komanda, or also called Tito’s Bunker and sometimes the Ark, was hidden behind an ordinary house, but stretched underground, more than 600 feet through a mountain, where more than 900 feet of solid rock sit on top of it. Designed in the shape of a horseshoe, the bunker is made up of offices, dorms and two kitchens, with enough supplies to accommodate 350 people for six months. The supplies didn’t just include food and water, though. Tito made sure his family and favorite officials were well taken care of, supplying them with everything they needed to be comfortable, including air conditioning and cable.

The construction began in 1953 and was extremely well hidden. No one construction worker would be on the project long before being replaced by another, so as to keep the plans top secret. The bunker was not completed for a total of 26 years, finishing up in 1979 and costing around $5 billion, making it the third most costly undertaking during the existence of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, only four generals were ever allowed to see inside the bunker, and Tito himself died the year after its completion.

Tito's office, one of more than 100 rooms located within the bunker. Source: Daily Mail.

Tito’s office, one of more than 100 rooms located within the bunker.

This bunker, however, was never supposed to stick around. It actually was scheduled to be blown up in 1992, until one Bosnian military guard refused to do so. The bunker is left exactly as it was, with all of the furniture there as well. In addition, Balkan artists have been coming to the bunker for several years now, leaving behind pieces of their artwork.

4. Nuclear Bunker Museum

Prague’s Nuclear Bunker Museum is open for tours every single day. Located five stories underground, the bunker was created to save the city’s citizens from immediate danger, but not keep them there sustainably for a long period of time, as government officials were worried prolonged subterranean living would cause mass hysteria and suicides. The two-hour tour offers up tons of artifacts from the Cold War era, and guests can explore equipment rooms, technical machine rooms and the tunnel system.

The bunker is filled with (more than slightly) unsettling mannequins.

The bunker is filled with (more than slightly) unsettling mannequins.

To make your visit extra creepy, you can schedule a special “darkness” tour, and feel your way along the thick underground pitch-black, with only a small flashlight to guide you way. Other special activities available include civil protection training workshops, which offer authentic training similar to that which civilians living in Cold War Czechoslovakia would undergo.

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About Author

Holly Riddle is a freelance writer and editor focusing on a myriad of topics, but one of her many passions has always been history, both war-related and otherwise. You'll always find her with a biography of some royal figure or significant historic female in hand. She's currently based out of Philadelphia, a city with its own intriguing past, where she lives with her husband and two dogs.

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