Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Communist era bunkers in Albania

During the 40-year Communist leadership of Enver Hoxha, more than 700,000 bunkers were built across Albania. Beginning in 1967 and continuing until 1986, the Albanian government carried out a policy of "bunkerisation" that resulted to 1 bunker to be built for every 4 citizens.

The bunkers were built in literally every possible location ranging from "beaches and mountains, in vineyards and pastures, in villages and towns, even on the manicured lawns of Albania's best hotel". They were constructed from concrete, steel and iron and their common type is that of a small concrete dome set into the ground with a circular bottom extending downwards, just large enough for one or two people to stand inside.

Bunker construction stopped shortly after Hoxha's death in 1985 but today thousands of them still dominate the Albanian landscape. Although they never served their purpose during Hoxha's rule, bunkers were used to temporary shelter Kosovo Albanian refugees during the 1999 Kosovo war. From the 90's and onwards bunkers have often been used as houses. There have been various suggestions for what to do with them: ideas have included pizza ovens, solar heaters, beehives, mushroom farms, projection rooms for drive-in cinemas, beach huts, flower planters, youth hostels and kiosks.

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