Breaking News Bar
posted: 12/25/2013 5:30 AM

Secret bunker under Prague hotel opens to public

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • A dummy of a policeman is placed at a desk as part of an installation at the nuclear shelter from Cold War era at five star Jalta Hotel in downtown Prague, Czech Republic. To mark the 55th anniversary, the hotel began to turn the bunker into an Iron Curtain museum whose first part was opened to the public in November.

      A dummy of a policeman is placed at a desk as part of an installation at the nuclear shelter from Cold War era at five star Jalta Hotel in downtown Prague, Czech Republic. To mark the 55th anniversary, the hotel began to turn the bunker into an Iron Curtain museum whose first part was opened to the public in November.
    Associated Press

  • An eavesdropping station is part of an installation at the nuclear shelter from Cold War era at five star Jalta Hotel in downtown Prague, Czech Republic.

      An eavesdropping station is part of an installation at the nuclear shelter from Cold War era at five star Jalta Hotel in downtown Prague, Czech Republic.
    Associated Press

 
By Karel Janicek, Associated Press

PRAGUE -- One thing was for sure when foreigners stayed at a prestigious Prague hotel during the Cold War era -- their telephone conversations were carefully monitored by secret police in a hidden underground bunker some 66 feet under the building.

The Jalta hotel at Wencaslas Square in the heart of the Czech capital was built in 1958. Its massive bunker with its reinforced concrete walls was meant to provide Communist Party members and military officials a shelter in the case of a nuclear attack.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

But it was also used as a center for surveillance operations that targeted western visitors staying at one of the several international hotels in Prague at the time.

To mark its 55th anniversary, the 5,382 square feet bunker has since been turned into a museum. It opened to the public recently.

Sandra Zouzalova, Jalta's public relations manager, said Wednesday the hotel wanted to shine a light on the many secret activities of the Cold War era.

Jalta was one of many places used by foreign diplomats where the Communists gathered intelligence. West Germany's business representation office in the 1970s was one of the prime targets, she said.

"They were eavesdropping on all of the hotel rooms," Zouzalova said.

Inside the bunker is some of the original equipment, including a switchboard, a tape recorder and numerous wires that once led to the hotel's 94 rooms.

Also on display is a floor plan that shows some rooms painted in red, green and yellow.

Zouzalova said the red rooms were given to high-value targets.

She said the operation didn't cover just phone calls.

Listening devices were attached to lint brushes, and prostitutes were often used.

The shelter, which had walls that were two meters (6.6 feet) thick, had its own ventilation system and a huge water tank that would allow more than 150 people to survive for months.

The place was shrouded in secrecy until 1998, when Czech authorities gave up the space for use. That was nine years after the 1989 Velvet Revolution that ended Communist regime.

The bunker is open two days a week and guests can visit with advanced booking.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.