Despite the end of Communism in the Balkan region of Europe, much like the rest of Eastern Europe, it remains marked by its past. Military bunkers are one of these lingering remnants. In Albania, bunkers are everywhere, serving as stoic symbols of history. Though many sit abandoned, others have been repurposed in creative ways that breathe new life into otherwise forgotten ruins.
Between the 1960s and 1980s, over 173,000 bunkers were built in Albania during the reign of Enver Hoxha, an authoritarian leader implementing a hard-core version of Stalisnim. Their construction was the result of a program called “bunkerization,”, wherein bunkers were built all across the country for the purpose of defending it against neighbors’ aggression. Hoxha was so paranoid about an impending attack that he ordered every bunker to be manned constantly, even in the absence of an active threat. The bunker program was a tremendous drain on Albania’s economy, resulting in poor infrastructure and housing conditions — an impact that can be felt in the country even today.
The bunkers were never used for war, as intended. After the authoritarian communist government was dissolved in 1992, the bunkers were abandoned and repurposed for residential accommodation, cafes, storehouses,