Tirana, the capital of Albania, is an increasingly colourful city. Forget bleak, concrete buildings: the Balkan city is now awash with street art – and nowhere more so than at Bunk’Art, a gallery that has transformed once-secret bunkers into museums.
A whopping 173,000 of these underground spaces dot the country – the legacy of paranoid dictator Enver Hoxha. Now mostly abandoned, the eerie domed structures are a strange reminder of a difficult period of national history. Once windowless emergency shelters, the bunkers now house very cool installations – without forgetting their complicated past.
Want to learn about Albania’s complicated relationship with the Soviet Union, while also getting to know its contemporary art scene? Bunk’Art 1 (just outside the capital) has a weird, school gym vibe. Artists have recreated the obsession Hoxha had with PE, bathing the space in purple light and mischievously placing a bust of his head in a basketball net.
Bunk’Art 2, right in the city centre, tells the regime’s history in a more straightforward way: its exhibits focus on civilians’ memories of living under a dictatorship.
We reckon the galleries are a great – if, admittedly, pretty eerie – way of exploring the city.
Looking for more amazing attractions? Check out our pick of the 27 most brilliantly colourful places in the world.