Bunker 42 in Moscow: History to touch
There are many interesting museums in Moscow that are worth a visit and appear on my bucket list. One of them is the Cold War Museum called “Bunker 42”. The special thing about the museum is that it is actually inside a former bunker. It is located underground near the Taganskaya metro station, in the street Kotelnitscheski 5- Pereulok, 11th floor.
After we had booked a guided tour in English in advance, we went with a small group to Bunker 42 this week. The tour lasted 60 minutes and cost us 2000 rubles per person. Don’t be surprised if you are standing in line with locals who have to pay much less for the entrance fee than you do – the prices for tourists unfortunately differ strongly from the official prices.
The military facility was built in 1956 as a command post in case of a nuclear war and kept secret until 1995. Since 2006 it is open to the public as a museum of the Cold War and bears the name “Bunker 42”, following the former designation “state object no. 42”. It is 65 meters (18 floors on foot!!!) underground and has an area of about 7000 m². As it extends in the former Soviet secret passages under the Moscow city centre and has a hidden connection to the tunnel shafts of the Moscow metro, the complex was once one of the most secret places in Moscow. Today the museum is one of the biggest tourist magnets and attracts history and Soviet interested people from all over the world to the Russian capital.
But what for visitors is an entertaining history lesson has always been a expected reality for the employees of the bunker during the height of the Cold War. Josef Stalin himself had commissioned the construction of the underground facility in the early 1950s, which was to serve as military headquarters in the event of a nuclear attack and is equipped both against nuclear radiation and as a command centre for long-range missiles. Although he was responsible for the construction, Stalin was in fact never able to visit the bunker: He died three years before the facility was completed. However, it was not until the 1980s, when the international situation relaxed and perestroika and glasnost had their time, that it lost its importance to the Russian military.
So it was with this prior knowledge that we began our tour. The tour guide, who was supposed to lead us through the bunker, was dressed in authentic uniforms like all the other guides. After we descended 18 floors into Moscow’s underworld, a practical guided tour through various corridors, tunnels and exhibition rooms awaited us. In fact, the content of the tour was very informative, but the next time I would prefer a tour in Russian, as the guide was difficult to understand several times due to its quite strong accent.
I especially liked the fact that we were really allowed to touch and photograph (but not film!) everything with very few exceptions. Thus, as a visitor of the Bunker 42, you get in direct contact with the story. The varied tour program was complemented by the simulation of a nuclear attack and a short film screening with impressions of what would happen in the world in such a case. Impressive and frightening at the same time – and certainly worth a visit.
If you liked Bunker 42 during the day, how do you think you’ll find it in the evening? Just test this during a nightly visit, because after dark a compartment of the bunker becomes a nightclub, where you can turn night into day.