Bunking Down

Monday March 18, 2013 Written by chris

Popping up out of the soil like mushrooms, these concrete bunkers are a reminder of Albania’s schizoid  history. They’re also a great place to take a nap.

Over 750,000 of the shelters litter the small country, installed during the reign of Communist leader Enver Hoxha (1944 - 1985), who feared invasion from each of the countries he’d fallen out with (basically, all of them). That Albania, with an economy based almost entirely on stolen Mercedes and Ponzi schemes, would be coveted by anyone seems unlikely, but so convinced was Hoxha of his neighbour's envy that he destroyed its beautiful landscapes, installing one concrete bunker for every four citizens.

In reality, the only action the bunkers ended up seeing was of the romantic variety: they've become well-known canoodling spots for teenage lovers. Nowadays most sit in disuse, though some are being refashioned into cafes, kiosks and even hotels, their brutish concrete serving as canvases for artists attempting to return a bit of colour to the scenery.