Skip

Albania's unwanted bunkers
March 13, 2013 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Paranoid Dictator’s Communist-Era Bunkers Now a National Nuisance "In Albania, 750,000 Communist-era bunkers populate the landscape, relics of the paranoia and skewed priorities of former dictator Enver Hoxha. Now they exist as quirky homes, animal shelters, ad hoc storage and make-out spots. "
posted by dhruva (54 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Garrrrr! I was just about to make (my first ever) post on this subject. Going to Albania was made very strange by seeing these dot the countryside. Enver Hoxha really screwed that place up badly, and organized religion is only slowly coming back after what he did to Albania.

Other than being dirt poor, it really is a beautiful place, especially up in the mountains.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:10 AM on March 13, 2013


If you notice a change in tone about halfway through, it's because the pictures of bunker interiors are from another photo project shot in the Netherlands.
posted by hat_eater at 10:16 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wanna go there. Anyone want to fund my trip?
posted by Melismata at 10:16 AM on March 13, 2013


The 9th one - three domes on a gravel beach - reminds me of Luke's home on Tattooine.
posted by notsnot at 10:19 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looking at that first one and I keep hearing this righteous dub...
posted by curious nu at 10:25 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh, I just read this last night.

"If you notice a change in tone about halfway through, it's because the pictures of bunker interiors are from another photo project shot in the Netherlands."

Right after the picture of the bunker that was made into a nice looking cafe. The Dutch bunkers are still reserved for civil defence, which is why they're full of old fashioned telephones and medical equipment.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:25 AM on March 13, 2013


Those look like the WWII pillboxes that little the UK countryside.
posted by Artw at 10:31 AM on March 13, 2013


Paranoid Dictator’s Communist-Era Bunkers Now a National Nuisance; Holland's Capitalist-Era Bunkers Are a Quirky Throwback To A Bygone Era
posted by destro at 10:38 AM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


Today, Albania is extremely pro-West, particularly pro-American. In 2011, the prime minister erected a statue of George W. Bush in the town of Fushë-Krujë.

I think I'm fine with not visiting Albania.
posted by Runes at 10:39 AM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Paranoid Dictator’s Communist-Era Bunkers Now a National Nuisance; Holland's Capitalist-Era Bunkers Are a Quirky Throwback To A Bygone Era

News Exclusive: History Book Written By Winner
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:42 AM on March 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


They're a nuisance because there's 750 000 of them. It's staggering how Albania managed to spend so much money, for so long, on a project that had no practical military use.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:46 AM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


It does seem like there were rather a lot of them - we're they expecting some kind of prolonged streetlevel fight as part of any invasion? Who invades Albania? Of course, they'd probably be handy in the event of an uprising as well, which seems more likely.
posted by Artw at 10:50 AM on March 13, 2013


I think I'm fine with not visiting Albania.

I think I understand your sentiment, but would you prefer it to be extremely anti-West, particularly anti American or just want there to be fewer than 1 statue of W?
posted by preparat at 10:51 AM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


They're a nuisance because there's 750 000 of them. It's staggering how Albania managed to spend so much money, for so long, on a project that had no practical military use.

Absolute dictatorship and rampant paranoia: is there nothing they can't achieve?
posted by acb at 10:51 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Enver Hoxha really screwed that place up badly, and organized religion is only slowly coming back after what he did to Albania.

You say that like organized religion is a good thing.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:53 AM on March 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


Albania... Albania... it borders on the Adriatic...
posted by fatbird at 10:54 AM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


My takeaway is that Hoxha and company demolished much of Albania's cultural past, which was transmitted by mosques and churches. Which is a sad thing.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:55 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


You say that like organized religion is a good thing.

Amen (haha!). Looking back at my life, growing up in religion-free Albania was one of the best parts of my childhood.
posted by preparat at 10:55 AM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


I looked at these pictures and now I want to play Half-Life 2 again. And I HATE the trip up the coast!
posted by infinitewindow at 10:57 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the photo of the bunker operating room, one of the carts has a rainbow Apple sticker on it.
posted by fatbird at 10:57 AM on March 13, 2013


Albania... Albania... it borders on the Adriatic...

Your land is mostly mountainous, and your chief export is chrome statues of G W Bush!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:58 AM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's staggering how Albania managed to spend so much money, for so long, on a project that had no practical military use.

It's almost like there's something to this whole Keynesian economics thing...
posted by mek at 11:13 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not a whole lot of words rhyme with Albania.
posted by hellojed at 11:15 AM on March 13, 2013


♬ This was a concrete dome / now it's all covered with murals (you got it, you got it) ♬
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:15 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


>They're a nuisance because there's 750 000 of them. It's staggering how Albania managed to spend so much money, for so long, on a project that had no practical military use.

Absolute dictatorship and rampant paranoia: is there nothing they can't achieve?


Oh, come on. Rhode Island lacks either an absolute dictator and excessive paranoia and yet we have managed to build 750,000 Dunkin' Donuts in a state that is 30 x 50 miles (including a bay). I will suggest that a Dunkin' Donuts is not much more useful than a bunker....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:18 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's staggering how Albania managed to spend so much money, for so long, on a project that had no practical military use.

They look like they have been dropped from helicopters.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:19 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will suggest that a Dunkin' Donuts is not much more useful than a bunker....

Their new steak breakfast sandwich looks tasty. It's probably prepared in bunkers from old horse meat, but it looks tasty.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:20 AM on March 13, 2013


Not a whole lot of words rhyme with Albania.

Albania!
You had a bunker mania!
Hoxha was insane to ya;
All that concrete makes it plain, oh ya....

Hmmmm. You may be right.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:21 AM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


You're so vainia,
You probably think this song is about you. Ia.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:25 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Their new steak breakfast sandwich looks tasty.

That's more of a bunker buster, in my opinion, but suit yourself. "Our new steak breakfast sandwich will hit your stomach like a couple of tons of Cold War concrete! Oh yeah!"
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:27 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


"If you notice a change in tone about halfway through, it's because the pictures of bunker interiors are from another photo project shot in the Netherlands."

Anyone have a good link about this 'When the Siren Goes' series?
posted by lumosshesaid at 11:30 AM on March 13, 2013


I have a little Albanian bunker-shaped souvenir on my desk right now. Fascinating things; the Wikipedia article is particularly good on the subject, but it omits the story that the designer was required to stand in the prototype while it was shelled by a tank. So obviously they are very difficult to get rid of.

Albania is such a strange land. Not only their love of George W. Bush (there is a major road in the centre of Tirana named after him), but so many things. The car fleet is about 50% Mercedes, for instance (rumour has it they are largely stolen from the West). It's the only place I've ever seen someone with a Mercedes sedan, selling primal cuts of meat out of the trunk.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:32 AM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hoxha's programme of "bunkerisation" resulted in the construction of bunkers in every corner of Albania

The surrealism of this statement is like something out of an Onion parody.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:37 AM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


The car fleet is about 50% Mercedes, for instance (rumour has it they are largely stolen from the West).

Probably a lot of second hand German ones that are no longer the shiny new model too. New emissions standards probably play a part too.
posted by Artw at 11:51 AM on March 13, 2013


I see now they're putting bunks in bunkers.
posted by kinnakeet at 12:16 PM on March 13, 2013


I don't want a fortnight on the Costa del Sol
Don't wanna go to Bognor — it's a plague-ridden hole
and it don't fit in with my ideology...
Down the Adriatic to the Vlora bay
Twenty pints of Fosters and I'm away
'Cos now I know just where I wanna be:
Albania — that's the place for me!

Attila the Stockbroker - "Holiday in Albania"
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:19 PM on March 13, 2013


Dutch towns test their emergency sirens on the first Monday of each month. They’re a throwback to 20th century vigilance and seem to exist only because of civic inertia.

Not actually true. The emergency siren broadcast tests were actually shut down in the early nineties, as no longer needed now the Cold War was ended, but reinstated after the September 11 attacks, as the then government re purposed the system to warn for terrorist attacks and other calamities.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:24 PM on March 13, 2013


So surreal... when the tripods come Albanians will be the only ones to escape capping, though.
posted by pleurodirous at 12:52 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Absolute dictatorship and rampant paranoia

I misread this as "absolute dictatorship and rampart paranoia."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:04 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Looking through Google Image results for "Albanian Bunker" in hopes of finding an image of a souvenir, man, that is just depressing.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:07 PM on March 13, 2013


You say that like organized religion is a good thing.

State atheism ranks as practiced by the Albanians had just as much terror and cultural destruction as fervent theocracy. Or were you happy when the Taliban destroyed those Buddha statues in the 90's? Destruction on cultural heritage, violations of personal conscience, and flat out torturing/murdering the clergy (or believers) is enough. Albania lost a lot of it's past because someone thought they should get rid of religion in one of the ugliest, most destructive ways possible.

Who invades Albania?

After deStalinization and the Sino-Soviet Split, Albania sided with Maoist China, but after China went all market reform on them, they split off from everybody. They truly feared that the Soviet Union was going to roll down into their country and squash them now that they had no large allies to stop them. Of course they didn't . . . but Enver Hoxha sure thought it was going to happen.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:13 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Who invades Albania?"

I *always* try to invade Albania in the Spring, but that's only so I can take Greece in the Fall.
posted by markkraft at 1:20 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Who invades Albania?

Look at what happened at the Kosovo War, where about 250,000 refugees spilled over the border into Albania. Despite American/NATO bombing campaigns against the Serbs, there could easily have been a wider war on that part of the peninsula between NATO and Russia, which would have likely have included Albania.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:23 PM on March 13, 2013




You say that like organized religion is a good thing.

The history and culture connected to it often is.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 2:12 PM on March 13, 2013


Who invades Albania?

Er, Italy during WWII?
posted by Melismata at 2:57 PM on March 13, 2013


Not a whole lot of words rhyme with Albania.

On the upside, porting over the Rocky Horror soundtrack should be straightforward.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 3:22 PM on March 13, 2013


It looks like a whole bunch of R2D2's in incongruous places.
posted by reenum at 4:33 PM on March 13, 2013


Not a whole lot of words rhyme with Albania.

I don't wanna pain ya
and I never would disdain ya
but let me just explain ya
and maybe entertain ya
see, I've got rhyming mania
sometimes it's quite insane-ya
man, it can really drain ya
ain't too much it'll gain ya
it's quite a mental strain-ya
I'd rather drink champagne-ya
and catch the midnight train-ya
but here inside my brain-ya
hey, I can rhyme Albania
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:56 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not a whole lot of words rhyme with Albania.

Quite a few country names: Serbia, Bosnia, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia etc.
posted by ersatz at 5:02 PM on March 13, 2013


Of those, ersatz, only Romania rhymes with Albania. Unless you pronounced it Albanía, Serbía, Bosnía, etc.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:04 PM on March 13, 2013


Not a whole lot of words rhyme with Albania.

WRESTLEMANIA!
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 6:06 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Didn't Hoxa order spikes to be placed all over the landscape to deter would be parachutists?
posted by mattoxic at 10:45 PM on March 13, 2013


Mapping bunkers: Polish photographer Alicja Dobrucka's similar effort

More Albanian bunkers, on Virtual Globetrotting

Albanian bunkers Flickr group
posted by filthy light thief at 7:21 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


« Older When NASCAR takes over the Olympics   |   Israel’s Bold New Queen Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post