Following World War II, Enver Hoxha came to power in Albania backed by his Communist Government. For just over 40 years, Hoxha employed a variety of tactics to keep himself in power – including wrongful incarceration, torture, killings, and a variety of dictator like practices to make sure he stayed top dog and that only his policies were implemented in the country. His paranoia mind was not limited to domestic affairs. Hoxha envisioned a large majority of the world trying to invade and take over Albania. This led him to begin building bunkers throughout Albania.
The Bunkerization of Albania
Beginning in the 1960’s, the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania started constructing bunkers made from concrete, steel, and iron. They varied in size. Some were only large enough to fit two people and some weaponry. Others were massive underground establishments meant to protect government officials from nuclear attacks. The most common are small with a firing slit. Hoxha envisioned Albania would have to fight off its many enemies one day – and the people of Albania would be able to do so with these bunkers all over the country. He believed it so much, he had well over hundreds of thousands of bunkers built over a 20 year period. Bunkers on the beach, bunkers in the farm meadows, bunkers on the city streets – you’ll see them everywhere. Citizens were routinely trained to defend Albania from these concrete strongholds.
In the end, the bunkers were never used to thwart invasions from enemies. Instead, they became a complete waste of funds – money desperately needed in housing developments and road constructions.
Bunkers of Albania Today
It didn’t take long after the fall of communism in Albania for the bunkers to become completely ignored by the locals. Nowadays most of these bunkers sit entirely abandoned throughout Albania. I took most of these photos hiking down the coast outside of Durres, Albania. However, you’ll find the occasional bunker repurposed for a variety of reasons. They serve as cafes, storage, toilets, etc. You won’t find nearly as many in populous areas – many of the bunkers have been torn down over the years. In more remote areas you can still access many of the abandoned structures – waiting for a war unlikely to ever come.