Europe

Croatian Underground Tunnels: Zagreb and Pula

Croatian underground tunnel

Jessica Murinarik

Imagine the perfect honeymoon. Sunlit beaches, world-class wines, and … underground tunnels? Fortunately, my new husband didn’t mind bypassing her former bomb shelter on a day trip to Pula, Croatia. A few days later, she heard about another underground passage in Zagreb. How can I resist? The two underground tunnels in Croatia tell a variety of underground stories, from wartime shelters to hosting rave.

Now enter Zero Strasse

Pula is an ancient city on the Adriatic coast, Roman mosaic hidden in the parking lot.. Somewhere between looking for the mosaic and visiting the Roman amphitheater, he heard about the network of tunnels beneath the city.

Croatian underground tunnel

During World War I, Pula built an underground tunnel called Zero Strasse. Since Pula was an important naval base in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the tunnel was part of a fortress system created to protect cities, civilians, soldiers and ammunition.

Croatian underground tunnel

The tunnel system was spread throughout the city under the hills of Phra. Consisting of walkways, trenches, galleries and communication walkways, it provided shelter from air raids. Two of the largest tunnels were built under the hills of Kashtel and Monteguillo. Under Kashtel, a tunnel with entrances from four different sides is connected by a central space.

Croatian underground tunnel

Credits: Istria Museum of History and Maritime

It’s fascinating to walk through tunnels today and imagine how the storage was once used. While moist and a little wet, the cool tunnel provides a break from the sun in the Adriatic Sea. Their design provides a regular air flow and a temperature of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The tunnel, 10 to 20 feet wide and about 8 feet high, is more spacious than you might think.

Croatian underground tunnel

Over the years, the tunnel expanded under Italian control and was designated as a fallout shelter and emergency hospital after World War II. Today, Pula shelters and tunnels can accommodate more than 50,000 people, almost the entire population.

The tunnel also contains an exhibition at the Istria History and Maritime Museum. On my visit, the exhibits covered the history of Pula’s public transport. What an unexpected discovery, one of the most unique museum settings I have ever experienced. Whether you’re there to learn or want a shortcut to the other side of the city, Pula’s Zerostrasse offers you an aspect of the city that you shouldn’t miss.

Croatian underground tunnel

Underground Zagreb

A few days later, 120 miles away, I took a walk in the Strosmeier Promenade in Zagreb’s picturesque Upper Town. I came across the entrance to a tunnel beckoning to a wall near the park and went back underground.

Croatian underground tunnel

The network of tunnels hidden under Zagreb’s Gornygrad or “Uppertown” is engulfed in mysteries and urban legends. The Grič tunnel is the only part of this network that is open to the public. Zagreb was built in 1943 to protect civilians from air raids.

Croatian underground tunnel

After the war, the tunnel was devastated. Legends include tunnels ending under the Croatian Parliament, occultations on Mount Sljeme, and use by Yugoslavia’s secret service. During the Croatian Revolutionary War, the tunnel was once again a shelter for bombs. The glitch tunnel has also become a rave party venue as a resistance to war. In 1993, MTV Under the city rave.. As an attendee named Robert said, “We want music, we want peace, and the whole world knows it.”

Croatian Underground Tunnels-Zagreb and Pula

Glitch tunnel “entrance” sign

Croatian Underground Tunnels-Zagreb and Pula

The Grič tunnel was renovated in 2016 and is now accessible from 5 different locations. The entrance to the tunnel bears the coat of arms of Zagreb. Cultural events such as Advent celebrations and historic exhibitions may also be held. The glitch tunnel is an easy shortcut through the Croatian capital and some convenient public toilets. As you walk through the 350-meter-long tunnel, you’ll see old warning signs posted and you can imagine electronic music echoing through the walls.

Croatian Underground Tunnels-Zagreb and Phra-8

The underground tunnels of Pula and Zagreb were built as a necessity during the dark times of the war, but today welcome visitors in a unique way to meet museums and experience these cities like no other.

Croatian Underground Tunnels-Zagreb and Phra-8

Zero Strasse

Caralina ul. 3, 52100
Pula, Croatia
Time: 10 am – 8 pm

Glitch tunnel

Mesničkaul. 19, 10000
Zagreb, Croatia
free entrance
Hours: 9 am-9pm

* You can read more from Jessica on her blog Urban Explorer..

https://www.croatiaweek.com/croatias-underground-tunnels-zagreb-and-pula/ Croatian Underground Tunnels: Zagreb and Pula

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