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In this article we will discover Albania’s BunkArt 2 museum and gallery located in the heart of Tirana.
For those interested in “Dark Tourism” or brutalist communist architecture, Tirana and Albania generally are a top destination. The country is dotted with bunkers that the paranoid dictator Enver Hoxha had installed to repel attacks from Albania’s enemies.
The capital Tirana has a wealth pf interesting historical sites such as the Hoxha pyramid, checkpoint with part of the Berlin Wall and the excellent Bunk’Art and Bunk Art 2 museums.
BunkArt 2 Gallery and Museum, Tirana
BunkArt2 is a former nuclear bunker in the centre of Tirana, Albania. It was once designated for the communist regime’s top officials and secret policemen in the event of a nuclear strike (much like this Secret Nuclear Bunker).
A smaller cousin to the main BunkArt museum on the outskirts of Tirana, this more centrally located museum and modern art-gallery aims to remember the victims of Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha. Up to 100,000 Albanian’s suffered at the hands of this murderous regime that was Europe’s answer to North Korea between 1945 and 1991.
History of BunkArt 2
Built between 1981 to 1986 the bunker is set behind the Public Order Ministry (sounds very Orwellian). It was constructed over a 1,000-metre space underneath central Tirana with blast-walls made of 2.4-metre-thick concrete.
Hoxha was paranoid about invasion from both the USA and the Soviet Union. Like all good communist dictators, he loved grey concrete structures and proceeded to have over 700,000 bunkers built throughout the country.
Many of these bunkers that line the Adriatic coast have been painted in bright colours, but Bunk Art 2 remains a stony grey on the outside.
After the success of the first museum, Bunk’Art 2 was opened in November 2016 and contains equipment from the regime as well as photographs and recreation cells and interrogation rooms.
Many of the rooms detail the history of the secret police between 1912 and 1991. There is an interrogation room, prison cells and rooms detailing the names of 6,027 victims of the communist regime who were executed and tens of thousands more who were sent to prisoner camps.
How to get to BunkArt 2
The museum and gallery are located on Street Abdi Toptani just off Skanderbeg Square in central Tirana.
BunkArt 2 Opening Hours
09:00 to 18:00 Daily
Entrance: 500 Lek ($4.50)
Other things to see in Tirana
Postblock & Berlin Wall – A bunker, pillars and part of the Berlin Wall
Piramida – A concrede pyramid constructed in 1987 as a museum to Hoxha.
Skanderbeg Square – Tirana’s main square with a statue of the Albanian Hero
Getting Around Tirana
Central Tirana and most of the sites worth visiting are all within walking distance. The city is also great for cycling and shared bikes can be found on many streets. There is no subway system in Tirana.
Getting to Albania
Albania is easily reachable by air from the rest of Europe. There are bus connections between the capital and other Balkan countries such as Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro.
I took the bus from Ohrid to Tirana which took around 6 hours.
About the author: Steve Rohan, originally from England, has lived in China for over six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, the ancient capital of Luoyang and now resides in the tropical paradise of Sanya on Hainan Island.
He has travelled extensively across Europe and Asia, mostly by train, and has written about his travels for this blog as well as self-publishing his first book, Siberian Odyssey.
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