Behind a seemingly ordinary house along the river Neretva outside of Konjic in Bosnia-Herzegovina lies a forgotten bunker, hidden right in the mountain.
Built at the behest of Yugoslav revolutionary and “benevolent dictator,” Josip Tito, the nuclear bunker officially known as ARK (Atomska Ratna Komanda, Atomic War Command) D-0 was a well-kept secret for decades. The construction started in March of 1953 and wasn’t finished until 26 years later in September of 1979. It is all hidden behind what seems to be an ordinary house, and stretching 663 feet into the mountain with over 919 feet of rock on top of it, at the thickest point. The whole complex is built in a horseshoe shape, resembling a maze with offices, conference rooms, dorms and of course, Tito’s private rooms. It was all supported by two kitchens and a supply of oil, food. and water that could sustain the bunker for up to six months. In the event of a nuclear strike, the bunker could accommodate Tito and 350 of the most important political and military persons in the country.
The importance of this facility is clear when considering the measures that were taken to keep it a secret. For one, all of the workers were blindfolded when being transported to the building site, only being allowed to remove it once inside. In September 1979, when the construction was finished, only 16 people knew of the bunker’s existence - three generals and 13 soldiers serving the facility. All of them had taken an oath to preserve the secret location.
The building of ARK D-0 was costly, and not just in the monetary sense. Apart from the $4.6 billion invested in the construction, it also took a lot of lives. According to the testimonies of some of the workers, not a single shift passed without a fatality.
ARK D-0 exists today only because of the Bosnian military guard, who refused to carry out an order from Serbian high command in Belgrade, who wanted to blow up the bunker up in 1992. Thanks to this forward thinking bit of preservation, the bunker is still in much the same condition as it was during the Yugoslav era with all of its furniture and equipment intact.
In addition to acting as a time capsule from a more paranoid time, the bunker is also home of a contemporary art biennial called D-0 ARK Underground. So the bunker, once built for a small circle of the Yugoslavian elite and close to being destroyed forever, is the home of a contemporary art exhibition. It’s said that Tito never came to visit the bunker but one can imagine that this was not what he had in mind for the future of ARK D-0.
Know Before You Go
ARK D-0 is located in a military facility on the east side of the river Neretva south of Konjic. The area is a military compound, so you can only visit with a guided tour. Tours are available via www.visitkonjic.com