Bunker 42Russian: Бункер 42 is the only museum in the world dedicated to the Cold War between the USSR and the USA. It is also a unique military facility of historic significance, located 65 metres below ground level and open to visitors. The bunker is situated in the centre of Moscow, near TaganskayaRussian: Таганская Metro Station. There are 310 steps to descend to the bunker and the same amount on the way back up, so it is best to make your mind up as to your fitness level before visiting.
Officially known as GO-42Russian: ГО-42, the bunker was designed as a shelter for Joseph Stalin and other senior Soviet officials in case Moscow was attached by nuclear weapons. The design of this facility, the first of its kind in the world, started right after the first nuclear weapons tests were conducted in the Soviet Union in 1949 and 1950. After the tests were over, it became clear to scientists that this kind of structure had to be built at a depth of at least 50 metres. Construction began in 1950 and was completed in 1956. Stalin never got a chance to visit it, as he died in 1953.
The bunker is composed of four parallel tunnels, only one of which is open to visitors. The tunnels are divided into isolated sections with metal-lined walls. The bunker was constructed by those who worked on building the Moscow metro, after they had passed the relevant security checks. They dug tunnels by hand, with rock-drills, loaded the ground onto trolleys and moved it out that way. If you visit the bunker, you will see a worker’s dummy, a rock-drill and a trolley.
The bunker was used as a long-range air force headquarters between 1956 and 1986. Mock-ups of the first Soviet nuclear bombs and the reconstructed flight operations management room are on display in the museum. In the first decade after the invention of nuclear weapons, long-range bombers were the only way to use nuclear weapons in enemy territory. The headquarters had a three-month supply of food and drinking water and were equipped with the most powerful air-filter system it was possible to build at the time. In case of a nuclear attack on the USSR, army officers in charge of the counterattack did not need to seek shelter, since they were based at the headquarters already. Hermetically sealed doors ensured that not a single radioactive speck of dust could penetrate inside the bunker.
This facility once had four entrances. The staff entered the bunker through two discreet entrances at Taganskaya KoltsevayaRussian: Кольцевая Metro Station, the bunker being located at the same depth as the metro. Up to 600 people worked in the bunker, and their work schedules were arranged such that only 3 or 4 people left the bunker at the same time, without attracting other people’s attention. Before going out, the staff would take their military uniform off and would then blend in with the crowds.
Walking down a never-ending succession of individual steps and flights of stairs to the depth of a 20-storey building is a novel experience for visitors. There are encouraging inscriptions on the walls which are painted green, such as ‘You are halfway down the stairs’ or ’48 steps to go’. You will find yourself going through spacious meandering tunnels, and you can even see a mock launch of a nuclear bomb, accompanied by spectacular video footage. Visitors are shown ordinary people walking around a city and what happens to them during a nuclear explosion.
Tours to the Bunker are offered every hour. The price depends on both its length and content. The longest is the 1 ½-long historical tour which takes visitors to the museum exhibition, to the conference room and Stalin’s study, followed by a screening of a 10-minute-long film on the Cold War. You can also opt for the High-Security Facility on TagankaRussian: Spetsob'ekt na Taganke or Спецобъект на Таганке tour that highlights the technical and engineering aspects of the structure’s life-support unit and takes you to the airshafts and other facilities to do with the science behind the bunker’s construction. Extreme sport enthusiasts might be interested in the ChZ-293Russian: ЧЗ-293 programme, where a general tour of the bunker is followed by an interactive digger tour to the life-support unit. All tours require prior reservation
An underground restaurant creates a special atmosphere in the bunker, and all visitors are able to visit it after the tour is over. The restaurant’s design features Soviet insignia, including the omnipresent red stars. It’s somewhat pompous but cozy, with its big, soft, red armchairs, a rounded ceiling and nostalgic Soviet films and music. In addition to the main hall, the restaurant has a banquet hall, a room reserved for children’s parties and a smoking room featuring soft armchairs and a bar. The menu prices are above average. Going up in the lift after a meal at the restaurant is an added bonus to your experience at the bunker.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com