In the 1990’s Yugoslavia met its death in the vicious wars that split the country apart.
Now, across the new nations of the Balkans, you can see the abandoned remnants of this previous era. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, I found a secret Yugoslav Airbase, built beneath a mountain on the orders of Joseph Tito himself and hidden away for years.
It was dark. Really dark. The headlights of the car barely lit the blackness inside the tunnel as we drove slowly through the side of the mountain. This was an old Yugoslav Air Force hangar, and until I was only a few metres outside the entrance it may as well have not existed. It was effectively disguised. As a mountain.
The entrance was hidden from the road which passed a few hundred metres away and the tunnel itself was large enough to conceal around twenty fighter jets when it was in use. Now there was just broken glass, rubble and darkness inside.
The airbase was secretly built on the orders of Joseph Tito- Yugoslavia’s ‘benevolent dictator’– in the 1950’s. At the time, the country’s leader was distancing himself from Stalin and the communist bloc, and attempting to cement a stance of neutrality. That meant they feared reprisals from the Soviets amid ongoing tension with the Western world too. So Tito fortified the country. Bosnia and Herzegovina, being mountainous and sparsely populated would be the perfect place for guerilla warfare in the event of invasion. Near Mostar, a city a few hours drive from Sarajevo, this secret hangar was clandestinely constructed.
Not even the locals knew it was there. Shepherds supposedly continued grazing their sheep on top, unaware that beneath their feet was an airbase brimming with hightech weaponry.
There’s an entrance on either side of the mountain, with a hangar bay connecting the two doors. The planes could take off and land from the short stretch of concrete outside the tunnel.
As Yugoslavia fragmented along ethnic lines, the Air Force flew the fighters to Serbia, when Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence from the federation.
The base was then used by different forces during the ensuing war. Now it lies abandoned, still camouflaged and hidden from sight.
You can explore the inside of the hangar, just take a torch. I visited with Miran, a Mostar local who runs a hostel in the city. It’s not far from Mostar but you may need someone to show you the way. It wasn’t exactly designed to be found.
That’s really cool! It’s one of those things you would never expect to find, how great. That’s the benefit of getting to know the locals and getting some great tips.
I couldn’t agree more, the locals always know the best, hidden spots
This is so cool! As urban explorers ourselves and also with a fascination with history from these era we would love to explore here. This is one reason we also plan on speaking more to locals when we visit places! Thanks for sharing
Hi Nic, yes local advice is the best! Especially for find urban exploration places and off the beaten track destinations. I’m enjoying your blog as well by the way!
Im sure many visitors would totally miss this experience but you make it sound like a must do and thats the advantage of speaking to locals, but also following great travel blogs!
Definitely an advantage to following great travel blogs!
A secret airbase, how cool! I like the bits of history in this post, I mean who would have thought that once upon a time, this airbase serves a function. I would love to see it for myself.
It was great to read about this secret place build by Tito. We indian has a special affinity towards Tito as he along with out first prime minister Mr. Nehru with few other worl leaders started Non-alignment Movement. Would love to explore this place some day… also the Balkan which has so much history and heritage.
Yes Tito, for a dictator, seems to have been loved by most of the world. You should visit the region, the history is fascinating!
A secret airbase? Well that’s a clever idea, only now its no longer a secret hhehehe.
I know, I’ve given the secret away
Imagine how it was operated before and now just few knows it. Keeping a secret spot is also a good idea to keep its distinctive historical treasure but it would be lovely as well to let the people now be informed about this. Thanks for giving such an interesting read! 🙂
It’s amazing how it was kept secret for so many years in the first place, and even now it is a quiet, unvisted spot.
Ho-ho-ho, it was such an exciting journey to read through your story. Being a Bulgarian, I can imagine that we also house some secret airbases somewhere in the Balkans. I am now eager to explore!
I am heading to Bulgaria this week to try and explore a few old relics there too!
How interesting. I’d love to see more of this part of the world
You really should, it has so much to offer!
Cool posts. We had exchange students from Yugoslavia in our neighborhood at one time. They were most interesting. This hidden airbase was a cool find. And again, thanks for the font that I can actually read. 😉
Hi Melody, I appreciate the fact that you appreciate my choice of font! Anything to make it easier to keep you coming back to read more really!
Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your blog.
You have some really good articles and I feel I would be a good
asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back
to mine. Please send me an e-mail if interested. Thank you!