The Soviet-era anti-atomic bunker

From a tourist destination to saving lives

(Ukraine 2018-2022)

They were supposed to be used to protect the population from an attack by the United States, but for their first time they are being used to protect the population from the attacks by Russia.


In Kyiv alone, there are more than 400 anti-nuclear bunkers scattered throughout the city. They were built by the Soviet Union during the Cold War period and served to protect the population from a possible atomic attack by the United States. They could hold 200 to 4000 people each and were equipped with everything necessary to survive the nuclear attack, which never happened. These anti-nuclear bunkers were never used, not even when the Chernobyl accident occurred. The soviet government could have used them to protect the population from the radioactive cloud, but it was chosen not to use them in order to hide to the West and to the local population the severity of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.


After the end of the Cold War period, and with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the bunkers were decommissioned, no longer used and closed. In most cases simply abandoned. In the last years a local tourist operator has opened one of this bunker to tourism, becoming a real attraction for people passionate of soviet history and dark tourism. 


But when the war began these bunkers full of Cold War relics have paradoxically become crucial for the local population. Indeed, during the constant attacks by the Russians on the capital Kyiv, with almost weekly launches of drones and missiles, the local population is taking refuge not only in the subway of the City but also in these bunkers, used for the first time in their lives.