In Central Bosnia, deep underground, lies a secret bunker fit for the end of the world.
The Great Balkan Ride begins in Sarajevo, and only an hour’s drive away is a historic site which is fascinating for anyone interested in the Balkans. Near the picturesque town of Konjic is a bunker that was built to withstand a nuclear attack of over 20 kilotons. However, while Yugoslavia never came under nuclear attack, the world in which Tito lived was indeed destroyed.
Tito’s Atomic Bunker
In the 1950s, as the Cold War tensions rose, Tito, leader of the nascent Yugoslav state, decided to build somewhere to hide if everything kicked off. Construction took 26 years, with costs of $4.6 billion, and less than a year after completion Tito died. Never used, the complex remained top-secret until the 1990s, when it was surrendered to the separatist Bosnian government, despite the central Yugoslavia National Army wishing it be destroyed.
Tito’s Communications Base
The Atomic Bunker covers a massive underground space, built to protect not only Tito but up to 350 of his closest allies. Besides Tito’s personal residence, it included more than 100 rooms, kitchens, and even a hospital. It was also prepared to be the center for communication in the event of any nuclear war: this explains its name, the Atomska Ratna Komanda (the Atomic War Command). Its initials resulted in it often being known simply as “the ARK”.
Art in the Atomic Bunker
Nowadays, the bunker has become part relic, part museum, and part… contemporary art space! The bunker is home to the D-0 ARK Underground Biennial of Contemporary arts, with exhibitions from artists of many nationalities. The fourth, and penultimate, edition began in April 2017, bringing even more art to the already varied and thoughtful permanent collection, much of which has been left over from the previous instantiations of the event. While Tito may never have actually visited the bunker, finally it is playing a useful societal role.