Seeking adventures in a place like Moldova ain’t that hard. Being a former soviet state you can still find loads of curious things. One of the main ones that still raises a lot of interest in the area is the Soviet Bunker in the forest of the village Olișcani. It’s original name being “Strategic Military Objective nr. 1180”, started as a top secret project in 1985 during the Cold War and ended it’s fate at the end of the fall of Soviet Union in the winter of 1991 which left the state of the bunker unfinished to this day.
It is not just the bunker itself that raises the curiosity of the people, but also it’s whole story. Originally when the project was approved, people in the village were informed that a tractor and technical repair factory would be built in the forest. The access was forbidden from beginning and only authorised people were able to access it. Little did they know that behind the trees a grandious vision was being unfolded: 2 bunkers with a diameter of 32 square metres and 60 metres deep, administrative buildings, housing, medical centre, canteen, hotel, a fire station, a car park and boiler room all spread out over a territory of 196 hectares.
The construction of the 2 bunkers named as A and B, was not easy in itself as it was built to withstand even atomic bombs during wars. With 12 levels in the ground deep, both were connected between each other with tunnels underground, but also with 4 tunnels each leading to the administrative buildings. Inside they were equipped with ventilation systems, electricity, heating and even lifts in order for the military personnel to survive up to half a year under. The locals say that the soil was frozen in order to be able to dig deep into the ground, so even in the summer with high temperatures the workers were wearing winter clothes. The amount of work force was around 2000 people, including many being brought from all over soviet Union with their eyes covered in order to not know their location.
The real reason for it’s construction is not known to this day, for the documents of the project were destroyed after the fall of the Soviet Union. However there are a few versions. One of the main ones is that this was a result from the Warsaw Pact which forced the Soviet Army to fortify their defences against a potential conflict with NATO. Curiously 3 more similar in shape bunkers were built in Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, creating the second version that this was a “false target” – in case of attack, the enemy would have difficulty in identifying the actual location of the launch, for they all looked similar. And last but not least, that this was supposed to be a nuclear rocket launch station.
Today, visiting the bunker it is not difficult, however there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Since the fall of soviet Union the bunker was under the ruling of a few companies with the aim to break it down and allow the nature to take over. To this day, the territory of the bunker is private property, so technically stepping there is trespassing. However this doesn’t stop people to visit it anyway and you will not be arrested (don’t panic!), for it is known about the interest people have about it. Some encounter a guard on their trip, some do not. Unfortunately there has been no interest from the local authorities to turn it into a museum or touristic activity.
- It’s not 100% safe. Despite the structure might look indestructible, the stairs are quite rusty and fragile and a lot of the metal has been taken or melted, so some parts are missing from the construction. The first floor is absolutely fine to visit, but if you wish to explore the lower levels, then please take caution. Access to certain floors is missing (usually the locals bring a wooden ladder to access there) and some floors are super muddy or even flooded. From the 10th level it’s all under water. There is no mobile service and there was actually a death incident at the bunker. A 16 years old boy from the village fell and died, so please do not test out any silly decisions or even selfies!
- Dress appropriately if you want to explore it more. Throughout most of the year, the surrounding is a wild area so there are many plants and insects that can cause some sort of irritation, be it mosquitoes or very tall thorns. Some paths have been taken over by the plants, and it can be quite muddy during or after rain. Same goes for the interior of the bunkers, where you’ll find water and mud, even on the first floor. The lower you go, the lower the temperature drops. Even in the summer you will find ice at the bottom of the bunker.
- Have some water and maybe some food/snacks with you. Travelling all the way there is a bit of a distance and you can end up spending hours in the forest exploring. Hydration is important in the summer heat and there are not really many food options in the villages or cities nearby.
- Getting there is not difficult, however going by car is preferable. There is a direct local bus which goes to the village Olișcani, but you’ll have a bit of distance to walk to get to the bunker and also you’ll depend on the timetable of the buses. By car you can drive all the way to the bunker or you can just park near the boom barrier. Please keep in mind that other people use the entrance road, so do not park in the middle of it. The turn for the bunker is the first left once you’ve passed the Olișcani village. You can see it on the map here: