Tagansky Protected Command Point is also known as Exhibition Complex Bunker 42 or as it’s commonly known, Bunker 42 ( Russian Name : Бункер – 42). It is a former Soviet Union secret military complex and communications center which has now been converted into an entertainment complex and a cold war museum. It is known as Bunker 42, as it was the code name assigned to the secret bunker facility that was built to protect Stalin and his top premier officials in the event of a nuclear explosion. Located under a hill in the Tagansky (Tanganka) district of Moscow, the site was chosen due to its proximity to the Kremlin.
Bunker 42 is one of the most popular bunker museums in Russia. Situated underground, at a depth of 65 meters, you need to climb down 18 floors to reach the facility. Spread across 7000 square meters, it is like an underground city which takes you back to the 1950s and shows what work was like in the command center.
A 54 meter stairway, right in the center of Moscow city leads to the Bunker 42 museum. The 54 meter stairway consists of 290 steps and 18 floors. The bunker has different sections which were used for communications, storage and ventilation facilities. There is a technician section which is filled with life support systems having a ventilation shaft that climbs right up to the stairway. The storage section also stores masks, a Geiger counter, Soviet posters, Soviet radio set and chemical protective suits as well as other technical equipment. Another section of the bunker museum shows the reserve command post that was used for aircraft communications, at the time when the bunker was operational.
Bunker 22 offers tours for both individuals and for groups. The tours are designed according to the age group of the visitors and covers a guide of how the bunker was constructed, the equipment that were installed and history of the bunker. It takes you on a rich excursion of different parts of the bunker including the technician section. There is also an imitation on display that shows how a nuclear missile could be launched. Overall, the tour promises to take you back in time and give a first-hand experience, of how it was like, to operate inside the bunker facility.
Private tours can also be arranged for large groups. A private tour is not required to get a guided tour or an English tour.
To protect the top military officials in the event of a nuclear war, many bunkers and secret communication centers were developed by the USSR, during the time of the Cold War. With the close possibility of a war with the United States, construction of the Bunker 42 facility began in the year 1951. From 1952 to 1956, when the bunker was being constructed, people living in the Tagansky district had no idea that tunnels were being constructed under their residential apartments. The technology that was used in its construction was the same that was used to build the underground Moscow Metro subway.
The entrance to the bunker was secretly located in an ordinary looking 2- story building, back then. In 1956, the Bunker facility started operating as a command post headquarters and took care of long range aviation communications. The personnel at the facility were changed every 24 hours and as per veterans records, they used to work in various institutions. To maintain combat readiness of the staff and prevent anxiety, they used to work in short shifts. Bunker 42 was equipped with all the necessary supplies like food, fuel and a couple of artesian wells to provide fresh drinking water, in the event of a nuclear attack.
In the 1970s a decision was made to reconstruct a part of the bunker, to serve for the needs of the central telegraph office. The decision was taken due to lack of waterproofing, ageing generators and ventilation systems that necessitated the need for making improvements at the facility. However, these plans were never carried out and in the year 1995, the Bunker was fully declassified. In 2001 Russian federal budget had made a provision of one million rubles for making capital investments at the facility.
Private Ownership –
Russia’s Federal Agency for State Property Management put up the bunker for auction in the year 2006. Novick-Service, a private company purchased the bunker for an amount of 65 million rubles, approximately 2.46 million USD at that time. The company had plans to turn it into a Cold War museum and an entertainment complex with a restaurant and a spa. To construct these facilities, renovation and improvements were carried out at the bunker. However, a few things like the massive steel door and the steel paneling in the bunker were not altered.
Misc Important Facts
- During the cold war around 3000 people could work for 90 days in the bunker without any assistance from the outside world.
- Personnel who used to work here would commute through the Taganskaya metro station, on special trains that ran at night. This is accessible from the circle line, or line #5
- You are recommended to wear comfortable clothes and shoes (no heels.)
- A special excursion called Basic Military Training (NVP) is available as a tour in the Bunker museum. This gives a firsthand experience to the participants, of the gas mask and the opportunity to try protective gear which are used by the armed forces.
- If you are not elderly, and have no medical problems the staff will expect you to take the stairs up and down at the beginning and end of the tour.
- There is also a restaurant open from afternoons to 11pm every evening.
This is a unique opportunity to visit a piece of cold war history built at the height of the Soviet Union. Few other secret bunkers will be as open or such an interesting place with convenient access to public transit. They have such an amazing tunnel system that they guide you around, and even without any special effects this bunker is a must visit. Don’t let this unique experience pass you by, survive nuclear annihilation and have the tour of a lifetime!