A SECRET SHELTER
In 1953 the authorities began building a secret civil defence shelter inside the north-eastern rondel of the castle embankments. In order to ensure that the project remained a secret, the people living in building no. 4 of the castle (the Labská Gate) were forced to vacate their homes. The shelter was not designed for ordinary civilians; instead it was a command station for the civil defence corps – a group that had been set up to run the city if Pardubice was hit by radioactive fallout following a nuclear attack.
The shelter could hold several dozen people. The ventilation and filtering system was designed for up to 120 people – but only for a very short period, in cases of critical need. The filters were not designed to protect people from chemical weapons, but they were able to prevent radioactive dust from entering the shelter. The system was powered by an electric motor, but it could also be powered manually if necessary. The shelter would certainly not have survived a direct aerial hit, but that was clearly not its purpose.
The shelter was equipped with a telephone and a telegraph line – the most sophisticated telecommunications technologies available at the time. It also had basic toilet and shower facilities as well as simple military-style camp-beds. It had its own well for water. It was connected to the city’s main electricity supply, but it also had its own generator. There was no heating except in the telephone room. The temperature inside the shelter remains very stable throughout the year, varying only between 12 and 15 degrees Celsius.
The shelter (including its equipment) was maintained in order to ensure that it was ready for use at any time. Obsolete equipment was replaced at intervals during the years.
In the 1990s, the East Bohemia Museum in Pardubice (which was then owned by the Pardubice District Authority) began using part of the civil defence shelter as a depository for its collections. The Museum still uses the shelter for this purpose today. It is mainly used to store items that have been found at archeological dig sites; many of these items have not yet been analyzed by conservation experts.
TOURS OF THE CIVIL DEFENCE SHELTER
Tours are held on Saturdays, beginning at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., for pre-booked groups of at least 5 people. The maximum number of people per tour is 15. Please book tickets in advance by e-mail (email@example.com) or by phone at +420 607 034 110.
Tickets 100/50 CZK.
The temperature inside the shelter ranges from 12 to 15 degrees Celsius all year round – so don’t forget to bring suitable clothing!