Sonnenberg Tunnel and bunker in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Nuclear bunkers become a talking point in Switzerland again

Written by
Time Out editors

One thing that the last few years have taught us is that we live in strange and unpredictable times, further proof of which comes from the discovery that nuclear bunkers are now very much an acceptable conversation topic in Switzerland once again.

Switzerland famously built nuclear bunkers during the Cold War, to protect citizens from the potential threat of nuclear weapons being used. Now that international tensions have mounted again with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, coupled with increased murmurings about nuclear activity, those same bunkers are back on the agenda. 

It’s not known exactly how many bunkers were built, but the total number is thought to run into tens of thousands. Currently, most bunkers are derelict or disused (or used for less-terrifying purposes than avoiding nuclear conflict, like storage), but it’s believed many of the shelters could easily be used for protection again if needed.

Add to this the fact that Swiss law requires local municipalities to provide a form of nuclear shelter for all of its residents, and it’s not too difficult to see why there’s suddenly renewed interest in these spooky spaces.

One of the most well-known of these is Lucerne’s Sonnenberg Tunnel. Nowadays used simply as part of a motorway, the tunnel was the world’s largest civilian nuclear shelter when it was built in the 1970s, with enough room for 20,000 people.

Get a glimpse into some of Switzerland’s strangest bunkers through a collection of photos that peer into these eerie subterranean spaces.

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