Cold War

8 Formerly Top-Secret Bunkers You Can Visit as a Tourist

Throughout history, there have been hidden bunkers to protect important people from the dangers of war. Today, many of these formerly off-limits bunkers are open to the public, where they can learn about their history and experience what it was like to live there — whether or not they're hiding out from World War III.

The Greenbrier

Located in the Allegheny mountains of West Virginia, this luxury resort has slept 26 U.S. leaders since 1778. It wasn't until the 1950s that the government turned the resort into what they called the Emergency Relocation Center, meant to house the entire U.S. Congress in case of apocalypse. The press eventually discovered its existence, and in 1992, it was decommissioned. Today, you can tour the space yourself — and even stay the night, if you'd like.

Nuclear Bunker Museum

Don't let the many shops and bars fool you. Below the hustle and bustle of Prague sits a hardcore bunker designed to keep people safe from nuclear explosions during World War II and the Cold War. Now, it holds a museum full of Soviet-era gear. To enter, you must tag along with a tour guide who will lead you through the abandoned tunnels and troves of gas masks, helmets, and dark stories of the past.

Hack Green

This 35,000-square-foot underground site in Nantwich, U.K. was used for military operations in World War II. The bunker was built in the 1950s but became explosion proof when it was rebuilt in the 1980s. It was designated as one of the 18 sites for the regional government to stay in case of a nuclear war. Today, members of the public can return to that era through the communication centers, decontamination facilities, and the largest curated public display of nuclear weapons in Europe.

Kelvedon Hatch

Witness the 25-acre refuge originally built as part of the U.K's air defense network. It was once capable of housing up to 600 military personnel. Now, it's a museum that is often used for various filming projects — including, appropriately, the 2016 video game "The Bunker." When you're tired of the apocalyptic nostalgia, you can frolic amid the ropes course and adventure park on the property.

Broadway Tower and Nuclear Bunker

This beautiful tower was made for royalty, literally. In 1798, George William, 6th Earl of Coventry, used the Broadway tower as lookout spot for trading. It was also home to Sir Thomas Phillips, one of the greatest collectors of books and manuscripts in history. During the World Wars, The Royal Observer Corps used the tower to detect enemy planes, and during the Cold War, they built a nuclear bunker 15 feet below a nearby field. It closed in 1991, but you can visit any time.

Hotel Nacional De Cuba

This Cuban hotel acted as the headquarters that Fidel Castro and Che Guevara used to prepare for a potential aerial attack during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Before that, it was a resort for the rich and famous: Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill, and even a few big-name mobsters have stayed here. It's now a public display that will make you go back in time and feel the tension of the Cold War.

Hospital in the Rock

Located in Budapest, Hungary, this bunker was set in long stretches of caves and tunnels under the historic Buda Castle. It was originally a military hospital during World War II, but in 2008, it was opened to the public. Today, you can witness wax figures in the midst of a military surgery or nuclear weaponry that survived the war.

Bunker 42

Moscow, Russia was home to Bunker 42, a fallout shelter for Joseph Stalin and the USSR government in case of nuclear attack. It was also used as a communication center for strategic bombers in Russia. However, today it's turned into a wide array of tourist attractions, including a museum, a restaurant, and even a conference center. There are a variety of tours where guides will show you unique Cold War artifacts for a taste of what life in the Cold War was like.

The documentary series "Great Museums: a Documentary Series Celebrating the World of Museums" will give you a well-structured guide to the world's best museums. We handpick recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Britain's End-of-the-World Bunkers

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Written by Annie Hartman July 11, 2018

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