A decommissioned nuclear fallout bunker in Brno
that has been made accessible for the general public. It’s not particularly rich in information, but visually interesting, in that musty old bunker kind of way, and serves as a little reminder of the crazy times of the Cold War
More background info: The strange name of the bunker derives from its code designation in the times when it was a top-secret location. In a sense this secrecy continues, as it’s hard to get any information about it beyond some rather obvious basics.
This underground facility inside Špilberk Hill in central Brno
was originally dug out during the Nazi
German occupation of the city in WWII
to serve as an air-raid shelter. After the war it was briefly utilized as a wine cellar, until in 1948 it was taken over by the CSSR
’s military and converted into a nuclear fallout shelter to provide a safe haven – naturally not for the public but only for the city’s and region’s political representatives and some military command level. Allegedly it would have had room for some 600 people – which is difficult to believe when you’re inside and see how cramped it is. It’s certainly a very long way from huge facilities such as the West German Marienthal bunker
or the Greenbrier
in the USA
The Czech army finally moved out in 1993 and the bunker was taken over by a “public service company” (as it says in the leaflet you are given at the site) and eventually opened to the general public.
What there is to see: Not all that much, as only part of the tunnel system is accessible and there is very little explanatory information. So be prepared for a rather visual-only and somewhat claustrophobic experience.
Before you enter the bunker, which is now very clearly marked – a far cry from the top-secret status it was supposed to have in its day – also spot the little orange car on the roof of the adjacent bar/cafe. This a “Trabbi” car, the iconic little passenger car built in the GDR
. This brightly repainted specimen (the originals only came in eggshell or pale blue) is on loan from the “Retro Muzeum Na Statku”, a collection of everyday items, including veteran cars, in the south of Brno
Inside, once you’ve purchased your ticket, the first thing you pass when you start the self-guided tour is the diesel generator for supplying back-up electricity for the bunker, I presume. Here there is also the first of a series of screens on which videos (mostly with English subtitles) are played in a loop that provide some commentary. I must admit, though, that I didn’t find them riveting enough to stop and watch them all.
The circuit through the bunker, by the way, is signposted by arrows – other routes are usually blocked off; so you can’t really get lost in this labyrinthine complex.
Soon you branch off to the right and come to the air filtration system room; some side chambers look more like jumble rooms with tube TV sets, old radios, and other bits and pieces piled together.
Along more narrow and gloomy corridors you come to rooms with yet more vintage electronic gear and also a kind of library with a bookcase full of communist-era volumes and old newspapers and magazines laid out on a table.
In one room there is a desk with some kind of intercom and two tape recorders. I wonder what this is, a kind of broadcast station? Or some surveillance technology? No information is given.
A rather unexpected exhibit is labelled as a “death cell” door from a Czech prison. Arranged around it is also a little stepladder and a noose hanging from the ceiling, clearly to indicate an execution room. Again a bit more context would have been welcome.
Visually the most impressive bit is the large telephone exchange room with six switchboard desks. Another TV sits on top and next to it a slightly bizarre still life of old dial-plate telephone sets together with a row of empty beer bottles.
You also pass a kitchen – even an active one, apparently serving the adjacent cafe/bar, but there are also more retro items on display, now food-related.
A collection of gas masks, helmets and old military NBC suits made of olive-coloured rubber are also on display, in one corner again clashing with a bizarre still-life collection of teacups.
One larger room contains furniture that is clearly not from a bunker, but rather old sofas and school desks. In one corner there’s even a bed next to an upright piano.
On the walls hang large blow-ups of black and white photos showing scenes that I presume must have occurred during the CSSR
’s “Velvet Revolution
”. But you’re left with such guesswork. No proper information is provided.
You pass rows of doors that also look like prison cell doors, but they too remain mysterious, plus washrooms, toilets, yet more rows of protective suits, helmets and gas masks, and eventually you emerge into the “milk bar”, clearly not originally part of the old bunker but more an underground party venue. The retro aspect is topped by a vintage stereo with a turntable next to a pile of period vinyl records.
And then you emerge through an exit that is separate from the entrance and confirms that what you’ve passed through last must be the “10-Z bar” that’s advertised on the wall outside.
All in all
, it’s a bit of a strange experience, partly bringing back memories of the Cold War
, but both lacking in background information and explanation of exhibits, and sometimes bizarre juxtapositions that leave you scratching your head in puzzlement. As a Cold-War bunker attraction it certainly lacks in depth, seriousness and, in part, authenticity compared to other Cold War bunkers open to the public (such as those in Britain
like Hack Green
). But it is still a worthwhile addition to Brno
’s portfolio of underground dark sites and worth a (quick) visit.
at the foot of Špilberk Hill on its eastern side, at 13 Husova Street, which forms the western boundary of the historic Old Town of Brno
Access and costs: quite easy to get to; not too expensive
The bunker is easy to find; from anywhere within the city centre of Brno
it’s walkable. Just make your way to Husova Street, which is the western boundary of the Old Town, and head for the landmark Špilberk Hill. The entrance is opposite No. 12 Husova – but you can’t miss it, really.
Opening times (outside pandemic-induced lockdowns): Tuesday to Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.; last admission half an hour before closing time.
Admission: 150 CZK, children up to 15 years old 50 CZK.
Time required: depending on how long you linger in the various rooms between half an hour and over a whole hour, especially if you can read Czech and want to browse the various reading material laid out in some of the rooms.
Combinations with other dark destinations:
Just up the hill inside which the bunker is located, another underground dark site can be visited: the old prison within the casemates of Špilberk Castle
. En route by the path winding up the hill on the south-eastern side you can spot a concrete pillar of sorts that is marked as the top of the ventilation air intake for the 10-Z bunker.
See also under Brno
Combinations with non-dark destinations: Both the heart of Brno’s Old Town and the main landmark, Špilberk Castle and Špilberk Hill are in the immediate vicinity of the bunker, so combine ideally with either.
- 10-Z - 01 - approach to the entrance, Trabbi on top
- 10-Z - 02 - bunker entrance
- 10-Z - 02 - screens inside old TV sets playing explanatory videos
- 10-Z - 03 - steel door
- 10-Z - 04 - engine
- 10-Z - 05 - inner workings
- 10-Z - 06 - corridor
- 10-Z - 07 - electronics
- 10-Z - 08 - library
- 10-Z - 09 - old tape recorders and some kind of intercom station
- 10-Z - 10 - former prison door
- 10-Z - 11 - noose
- 10-Z - 12 - switchboards ... and beer bottles
- 10-Z - 13 - another narrow corridor
- 10-Z - 14 - protective rubber suits
- 10-Z - 15 - gas mask
- 10-Z - 16 - emergency kits
- 10-Z - 17 - storage and sofas
- 10-Z - 18 - gas masks ... and tea cups
- 10-Z - 19 - door
- 10-Z - 20 - Nazi-era sign that prohibits dancing Swing
- 10-Z - 21 - yet another corridor
- 10-Z - 22 - another protective rubber suit and another gas mask
- 10-Z - 23 - cozy
- 10-Z - 24 - bar area
- 10-Z - 25 - old turntable and vinyl records
- 10-Z - 26 - ventilation air intake on the hill above the bunker