Balkan Odyssey Part 14: Bunkers, Bunkers, Bunkers!

It’s impossible to speak about traveling through Albania without mentioning the bunkers.

The bunkers are the product of the demented, twisted mind of dictator Enver Hoxha who ruled the country from 1945 to 1981. During this time he broke off relations with the Soviet Union, China and every other socialist country on this planet, not to mention the sworn enemies of communism, the western world.

The xenophobic leader completely sealed off Albania from the outside world, a world the paranoid dictator was certain would invade one day; he just didn’t know if it would be the communists or the capitalists.

To counteract this “imminent” invasion, he ordered more than 700,000 bunkers built with the idea that if an invasion occurred, every resident who could carry a gun would run off to the nearest bunker and protect the fatherland. Keep in mind that Albanian had a population of less than three million at the time. That means one bunker for approximately every four people. That means a lot of bunkers.

It is impossible to travel through Albania without coming across these concrete pillboxes. They have proven too expensive to remove and as a result, are slowly–very slowly–succumbing to the elements. Perhaps in another five hundred years they will disappear altogether.

In the meantime, they remain strategically located on hillsides, beaches, roadways, rail lines, fields, mountains, and every horizon. Sometimes there is just a single one, other times ten or more can be seen.

Yesterday’s Post: Shkodra, Albania
Tomorrow’s Post: Albania Wrap-Up