A relic of WWII paranoia, Albania's "concrete mushroom" bunkers dot the country's landscape, from the oceans, to the mountains, to the cemeteries. Now, a group wants to reclaim the bunkers and transform them into eco-friendly hotels.
During World War II, Albanian leader Enver Hoxha, fearing an invasion of his country, ordered the construction of roughly 750,000 bunkers throughout Albania. Though some have been destroyed, most of the bunkers remain today, abandoned relics of a disaster that never came.
A handful of the bunkers have, however, been converted for non-military use. At a beach resort in Golem, a plumber managed to turn one of the bunkers into a restaurant. Another serves as a makeshift church. The Concrete Mushrooms project seeks to reclaim the bunkers on a larger scale, turning them into a network of hostels, cafes, and shops, that could attract eco-tourists. According to the proposal, the project could not only boost Albania's economy, it could serve as a happy perversion of Hoxha's original intentions for the bunkers. After all, where the bunkers were once built to protect Albanians from invaders, they could now be used to welcome visitors from abroad.