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Yugoslav-era military bunker opens for tourists

Kočevska Reka, 1 June - A large underground bunker built in Kočevska Reka in south Slovenia, a densely wooded area off-limits to civilians during Yugoslav times, has become the first such installation in the country to open for the public.

A shooting range in Škrilj, a military zone near Kočevska Reka where a bunker, known as K-35, has opened for the public.
Photo: Rasto Božič/STA

Known as K-35 and long strictly confidential, the bunker was built into a ridge overlooking the river Kolpa in the 1950s to provide support services to the leadership of Communist-era Slovenia in the event of a Soviet attack. Separate facilities were built nearby for political leaders.

It is 80 metres below the surface and its six rooms stretch over 800 square metres. The bunker has its own water source and electricity supply and was stocked to allow its residents to remain underground for up to 100 days in the event of a nuclear attack.

The bunker was never used for its intended purpose but the original equipment remains intact. Indeed, the ventilation system is still fully functioning.

Since 1991 the facility has been managed by the Slovenian Armed Forces, but in January this year the army handed over the keys to Kočevje municipality.

The local community has spent about EUR 100,000 sprucing the area up for visitors and arranging a makeshift museum, Kočevje Mayor Vladimir Prebilič told the STA.

Now the facility can receive groups of up to 25 people at a time. The visitors will get acquainted not just with the bunker as such but also the broader Kočevska Reka area, which was a classified military area.

A part of the former military zone in Kočevska Reka is still used by the army and police special forces, while one bunker in the area is used to house archives.

© STA, 2017