Cold War Tunnel
- POI Number
- Historical building
- Municipality of Gjirokaster
- Cerciz Topulli Square Street: Gjin Zenebishti
- 250 metres above sea level
The Cold War Museum (also called the Color War Tunnel) is an underground bunker that served as an emergency shelter in the latter part of Albania’s communist era (1944-1990). It was built as an emergency shelter during the post-World War II communist times, but is now a museum that can be visited with a guide. The entrance is at Çerciz Toppuli Square where you can also find the tourist information point where a guided tour can be arranged (You can’t enter and wander around the tunnels by yourself). The tunnel complex was built underneath Gjirokastra Castle in the late 1970s under the communist dictator Enver Hoxha. This bunker, and the innumerable small bunkers found throughout the country, reflects the paranoia of Albanian’s communist dictator, Enver Hoxha. He feared a foreign invasion, especially after Albania’s breakup with Soviet Union in the early 1960s. Built in secret in the early 1970s, the bunker is 800 m long and has 59 rooms. Gjirokastër’s bunker is in its original state, making it less informative but much more atmospheric and genuine.
The Cold War Tunnel was designed to accommodate many different functions in case of a nuclear attack. The tunnel complex is 800 meters long and has 59 rooms, with different functions, including rooms for government ministries, local government, party elites, a kitchen, power generation and even an air filtration room and a decontamination room in preparation of a nuclear attack. There are also rooms for interrogators, party elites, places for sleeping, power generation, and water storage. Much of original furniture looted from the site in 1990 but pieces still remain. The complex is more or less in its original state with some of the furniture still there. This makes it less informative, but very real at the same time and a guided tour will give you lots of information in a 20-minute walk through the tunnels. There are also rooms for interrogators, party elites, places for sleeping, power generation, and water storage. Much of original furniture looted from the site in 1990 but pieces still remain. The bunker is a stark contrast to similar to Tirana which have been restored, this is in its original state, which is less informative but more atmospheric and a little scary. It contains a rusting Czechoslovakia made generator. But some items were looted during the unrest of the 1990s.
Visiting the de-contamination room, the generator room (contains a rusting Czechoslovakia-made generator), and the air filtration room, gives you a sense of the regime’s preparations for a nuclear attack. The main entrance of the Tunnel is close to Municipality building, which once served as the headquarters of the Party Committee. The tunnel tour takes about 20 minutes.