The bunker was found in 2011 by workers restoring the Palazzo Venezia, but its existence wasn’t revealed until now. The workers found a trap door in the cellar of a 15th-century building that led to nine rooms fortified with concrete walls up to two meters (6.6 feet) thick.
Researchers believe this was the 12th bunker Mussolini was said to have had. It was obviously never finished as there is no plumbing or electricity, only bare walls.
The bunker is 15 meters (49.2 feet) underground and could have withstood some serious bombing.
There are two escape routes in the bunker, one of which leads to a neighboring church garden. The other hasn’t been fully explored but leads in the direction of another of Mussolini’s bunkers.
While his network of bunkers protected Mussolini from Allied bombing, they didn’t protect him from his own people. He was killed by Communist partisans on April 27, 1945.
The bunker will open to tourists this autumn and will include a touchscreen display to explain its historical significance and the recording of an air raid siren to add a touch of atmosphere.
This decision is at odds with what Germany did with Hitler’s bunker in Berlin. While the exact location was known, it was decided not to turn it into a historical monument for fear that it would attract neo-Nazis. It wasn’t until 2006, and after much controversy, that a historic plaque was put up at the location.
[Image courtesy Bundesarchiv]