Cold War Tunnel

Top choice in Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra's most interesting sight in no way relates to traditional architecture, but instead to a far more modern kind: this is a giant bunker built deep under the castle for use by the local authorities during the full-scale invasion that communist leader Enver Hoxha was so paranoid about. Built in secret during the 1960s, it has 80 rooms, its existence remained unknown to locals until the 1990s. Personal guided tours run from the tourist information booth on the main square all day.

It's an interesting contrast to Tirana's Bunk'Art: unlike the capital's version, this bunker is virtually empty and feels even more creepy as a result. The rooms have their use displayed on the door and nothing else, though it's interesting to note that the bunker – which could hold up to 300 people – had everything from its own classroom to a law court.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Gjirokastra attractions

1. Bazaar


The 'Neck of the Bazaar' makes up the centre of the Old Town but what were once artisanal workshops are today mainly tourist souvenir shops. There are a…

2. Gjirokastra Castle

0.11 MILES

Gjirokastra's eerie hilltop castle is one of the biggest in the Balkans. There's been a fortress here since the 12th century, although much of what can be…

3. Army Museum

0.16 MILES

As well as photos of the partisan resistance against the Italians and a vast number of rifles and machine guns, it's possible to visit the cells where…

4. Gjirokastra Museum

0.16 MILES

This interesting museum is a beautifully lit and presented, fully English-signed display on the long and fascinating history of the town. Some highlights…

5. Skenduli House

0.26 MILES

The lovingly restored Ottoman-era Skenduli House has been in the hands of the same family for generations (apart from a few years during the communist…

6. Ethnographic Museum

0.28 MILES

This museum houses local homewares and was built on the site of Enver Hoxha's former house, in the middle of the Old Town. Its collection is interesting…

7. Zekate House

0.42 MILES

This incredible three-storey house dates from 1811 and has twin towers and a double-arched facade. It's fascinating to nose around the almost unchanged…

8. Blue Eye Spring

10.78 MILES

The Blue Eye Spring is a magical place: a hypnotic pool of deep blue water surrounded by electric-blue edges like the iris of an eye. It's further…