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I had never seen a war bunker before. This all changed in Prague when I took a Communism and Nuclear War Bunker Tour after googling for odd tours and sites to see. Our starting point was the office- located in the Main Square to the left of the clock tower (if you’re looking at the clock). It’s located in one of the alleyways off the Main Square.
We were led through the streets of Prague learning about the Nazi Occupation and then life in the Iron Curtain. The Prague Spring occurring in 1968 leading to mass protests for the people’s freedoms. These protests continued for 8 months and also included the personal sacrifice of Jan Palach. Jan Palach, a student at the time, set himself alight in Wenceslas Square to protest the Soviet Union tanks rolling in to quash these protests. His memorial is in that Square today and this square is still popular for demonstrations as well as the Christmas Markets and New Year celebrations.
The period after these protests and subsequent “normalisation” lead to complete censorship of the media and formation of resistance groups. It wasn’t until 1989 that the Velvet Revolution began and the ruling Communist Party resigned. The first democratic elections were held in the following year and splitting of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.
We took the tram into one of the nearby suburbs and ended up in non impressive or descriptive parking lot where a 4 tonne front door was opened. Our guide told us that this bunker was turned into a bar but was then closed due to fire safety hazards. I was impressed at the attractive use of space albeit only for a short amount of time. I’ve always had a fond liking for basement bars.
Inside, we went down this stairwell which then had arms going off in different directions. I was completely fascinated by it all having not been in any structure like this before nor grown up in a country that protests for their basic freedom. The feeling that this was a real reality back only just over 30 years ago was just a stark reminder how world politics can change quickly and suddenly.
One of the arms was clearly converted for the tourists. The corridors were filled with old missiles, bullets and clothes. They were relics from another time. Protective equipment lined the walls in a horror film sort of feel. We were given a booklet that contained pictures of the modern history that we were explained as well as a pamphlet of how to put on personal protective equipment in the event of a nuclear event. I still have these today- it’s not something you come across let alone get given these days.
Apparently there are still bunkers that are maintained within the city. I’m not sure how accurate this statement is but it’s a reminder that history may repeat itself in the future.
Have you ever been inside a nuclear bunker?