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Saturday, 17 September 2016

A bunker in south Albania

Bunker by Lake Ohrid, near Pogradec

Most of the defensive bunkers constructed in Enver Hoxha's Albania were in the form of hemispherical concrete domes (see illustration below). 

Here, I describe an unusual one that I saw next to Lake Ohrid, just north of Pogradec.

Typical Hoxha era bunkers (near Lin)

Near the village of Memelisht (north of Pogradec), we examined the huge bunker on the lakeshore (illustrated above). It was like an elongated egg in plan. Part of it protruded into the lake, and the rest caused the road to curl around it. Its entrance faced inland. 2 gun slits faced north - one slightly towards the west and the other slightly towards the east. A third faced south towards Pogradec. I peered inside, and saw a central passage with doorways leading to 3 side rooms. The corridor was clean and painted white. A few discarded bottles lay on its floor. This ‘bunker’, which was so different from other bunkers that we saw in Albania, puzzled me. Valent at the hotel believed that it had been built by the Italians to control the road between Elbasan (and the north of Albania) and the south of the country as well as Greece. This seemed a reasonable explanation for its existence and positioning.
Does anyone know exactly who built it. Was it the Italians, the Albanians, or someone else?
Now, please visit: 

Sunday, 11 September 2016



There are 2 places in London that remind me of some of the sets in Fritz Lang's film "Metropolis" (1927): the common parts (vestibules etc) of the Barbican Centre and the escalator hall of Westminster Underground Station ( rebuilt in 1999).

At Westminster there is an interchange between the Jubilee Line and the Circle/District Lines. The sub-surface Circle/District lines are separated from the far deeper Jubilee Line by a series of ecalators. The latter are housed in a huge concrete lined space. The whole ensemble is grey and gloomy, lit by lights that both illuminate and at the same time emphasise the gloomy nature of this futuristic collection of escalators, steel tubes, and other structural elements. I use the word 'futuristic' with reservation as this place resembles, as already mentioned, the sets of a film made back in 1927.

Full of human life, this interconnecting hall is rather inhuman - a collection of machines for moving hordes of people from A to B. It reminds me of factory assembly lines. Worth visiting because it is an extrordinary visual and psychological experience - and because it helps you to travel through the metropolis.