North Korean Dreamin’ – WIF Underground

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The Most Secure

Bunkers in

the World

Heavily guarded buildings are awesome, and what buildings are better guarded than bunkers? These man-made cave complexes are custom designed to keep out everything that’s not invited in, and they’re often equipped with fantastic defenses and luxurious amenities that are a far cry from the brutal underground concrete boxes you probably imagine when you think of the word “bunker.” Let’s take a look at some of the most impressive ones out there!

10. The Nike missile bunker

The Nike missile bunkers (no relation to the sportswear manufacturer, as far as we know) were a pair of Cold War-era bunkers that were so secure, they were actually as effective offensively as they were defensively — if not more. The Nike bunker location started out as a strategic spot that defended the nearby Hanford Nuclear Facility, which is (in)famous for churning out two thirds of the plutonium used in U.S. nuclear weapons, including the plutonium used in the first atomic bomb that was tested in New Mexico in July 1945.

The bunkers were arguably at their mightiest from 1955 to 1958, when they housed a sophisticated air defense system of Ajax and Hercules missiles under the designation of “H-52.” The bunkers were later refashioned into an emergency operations center and, more recently, a Gravitation Physics Laboratory that was rendered in-operational in 2011. However, the legacy of Nike missile bunkers lives on in the Golden Gate Recreational Area in California, which houses a reconstructed Nike site that is open for public tours.

9. The Sonnenberg bunker

Every European and North American country worth its salt has a nuclear bunker or six thousand lying around, but few have gone as far as Switzerland. The alpine country is the home of Sonnenberg Bunker, an unassuming pair of mile-long motorway tunnels that can transform into a massive fallout shelter by closing the 350-ton blast doors at both ends.

The tunnels and the bunker complex hidden within them lie under the town of Lucerne, and was designed to house 20,000 people in the event of the nuclear threat everyone was afraid of at the time. However, soon after its completion in 1976, the Sonnenberg Bunker turned out to be a little less efficient than advertised. While it was highly secure and could technically house the amount of people it was supposed to, provisions were a problem. Since the kitchen facilities could only feed the bunker staff and the hospital, almost everyone taking cover inside it would’ve had to bring their own food with them — and store said food on the tiny bunk bed they were also supposed to sleep in. There was also the small matter that it took a whopping two weeks to close the blast doors and get the bunker operational, which seems a little slow for a structure that exists specifically to shelter people from a disaster that could come with precious little notice.

Despite its flaws, the Sonnenberg Bunker remains operational, though only at a fraction of its intended capacity: In 2006, it was wisely downsized to only accommodate 2,000 people.

8. Survival Condo Project

Survival isn’t just a primal instinct. For some people, it’s a chance to turn in a sweet profit. Larry Hall is one of these entrepreneurial spirits, as evidenced by his Survival Condo Project, which combines luxurious accommodations with all the Armageddon-proof safety that a nuclear missile silo can provide. In 2008, Hall coughed up $300,000 for an old nuclear missile silo in Kansas, and spent a further $20 million to turn it into a series of luxurious homes, complete with communal spaces and luxuries such as swimming pools and cinemas. Hall even has plans to open a small grocery store within the complex.

Homes in the Survival Condo Project start from $1.5 million — well, started, since they were all sold out way back in 2012 — and apart from their underground location they’re virtually indistinguishable from your average inner-city apartment, complete with all the expected amenities such as dishwashers and washing machines. There are even LED screen “windows” that show live feed from the prairie range outside, though it’s probably safe to assume their view will be significantly less idyllic if the bunker is ever put to serious use.

7. Vivos xPoint

Somewhere in the Black Hills area of South Dakota, near the city of Edgemont, there’s a vast field where sturdy concrete bunkers litter the land like molehills. These 575 identical structures are Vivos xPoint, a luxury “survival community” for the people able and willing to tie themselves down to a down payment of $25,000 and a 99-year annual lease of $1,000. For that price, you get a barren bunker in one of the statistically safest locations in North America, ready to ride out whatever shelter-worthy disaster might strike.

While you’re free to ride out future disasters in an unfurnished concrete hole, the company also offers all sorts of luxurious refurbishments for your bunker — for a price, of course. They also offer “24/7 security” in the shape of trained guards and camera systems, and should the doomsday scenario allow you to exit the bunker every once in a while, there are also amenities such as a shooting range and a hot tub spa.

6. The Houston Bunker

The owners of the Houston Bunker (or “The Bunker” for short) claim that the site has “perhaps the most interesting history of any data center ever built.” While this may or may not be true, there’s no denying that the complex has a pretty wild past. Unlike your average converted Cold War -era nuclear shelter, the Bunker is a relatively young structure: A man called Louis Kung built it in 1982 as part of a supposed HQ for his Westland Oil company. The construction site was extremely secretive — armed guards and all — which is why most people didn’t know that Kung’s building also included a massive nuke-proof bunker.

Kung’s bunker was meant to save the families of Westland Oil employees (and, of course, that of Kung himself) from large-scale disaster, and it was equipped to house 350 people for three months. Apart from the usual nuclear shelter amenities such as filtration systems, water reservoirs and medical facilities, it seems Kung was also prepared for various Mad Max-style scenarios, seeing as he equipped the complex with machine gun nests and prison cells. Even the mundane office building parts of his structure featured bulletproof glass, emergency generators and other end-of-the-world features.

While Kung’s apocalyptic fears never came to be, the sturdy structure of the Bunker came in handy later, when the building got a new life as a data security center. In this role, the structure has proved its worth by surviving disasters such as hurricane Ike with zero system downtime.

5. Europa One

Remember Vivos, the company behind the xPoint bunker community? Turns out, they can do one better. When storms of fire one day raze the world, Europa One is where billionaires will go to ride things out. This giant structure in Rothenstein, Germany is an old Soviet Cold War bunker that has been converted into an underground city of unparalleled luxury that can be compared to a five-star cruise ship. Opulent swimming pools, stylish art galleries, comfortable cinemas, elegant bars and medieval-style cathedral spaces litter the complex, and if you don’t feel like hanging out in the communal spaces, you can always retire to your private accommodations, which with their plasma TVs and bedroom aquariums are not unlike a presidential suite.

It’s pointless to ask how much it costs to enter this lap of luxury, because if you have to ask you almost certainly can’t afford it. Even if you can, entrance is by no means guaranteed. First, a potential Europa One resident has to apply for Vivos “membership,” after which they’re moved to a vast pool of prospects, from which the company selects “best candidates” for the shelter.

4. The Shanghai Complex

It might be wise to take the stories about Shanghai’s massive underground bunker with a grain of salt, since it appears most reports of its existence are from 2006 and can be traced back to a single article by the Shanghai Morning Post. Still, even if just a fraction of its scale is true, it’s a massive feat of engineering that easily earns a place on this list. We’re talking about a colossal, nuclear-proof, million-square-foot bunker complex that can house a reported 200,000 people for up to two weeks. “Miles of tunnels” connect the shelter to a number of buildings, shopping centers, and the city’s subway system.

While the scale and existence of this particular shelter might be debatable (even the Shanghai Morning Post article didn’t go into too many specifics), it wouldn’t be too surprising to find out it’s real. After all, there’s no denying that China’s large cities have a long history of large-scale bunker building, and Shanghai alone built many large shelter complexes during the Cold War. To get a sense of the scale, you only need to take a look at another large Chinese city, Beijing, where an estimated million people live in the city’s old, forgotten nuclear shelters.

3. Burlington bunker

At first glance, the Burlington bunker seems less like a real location and more like a video game level. Located 100 feet under the cobblestones of the quintessentially English small town of Corsham, this massive complex is a little bit larger than your average doomsday prepper’s concrete bunker: A full-on 1950s “Cold War City” that features an insanely complex, mile-long labyrinth of nuke-proof underground structures and 60 miles of criss-crossing subterranean roads. The climate-controlled location was designed to house up to 4,000 people, ran on massive generators that powered over 100,000 lights, and was chosen because a vast network of natural limestone caves that was already running under Corsham.

The Burlington bunker’s amenities include usual Armageddon fare such as control rooms, kitchens, storage rooms and a pneumatic tube system for messages. It also features a hospital, the second largest phone exchange in Great Britain and, of course, an underwater lake that supplies the drinking water. A fully equipped TV studio allows whoever’s left of the government (and, for that matter, the British royals) to address the people, which is why the site used to feature a secret rail line that forked from the main line between London and Bristol.

People only learned of the top secret Burlington bunker’s existence after it was decommissioned in 2004, at which point most of its supplies had been drained and a small staff of four people was running the entire bunker.

2. Raven Rock

Where does the Department of Defense go when things get really hairy? Like, “actual bombs are falling on the Pentagon” serious? The answer is Raven Rock. This mountain complex, which is also known as Site R, was built underneath Pennsylvania’s Blue Ridge mountains, and is connected to Camp David (the country retreat of the President of the United States) with a 6.5-mile tunnel in case the POTUS needs evacuating as well.

Raven Rock is basically every Cold War -era fear rolled into one giant bunker complex, which comes as no surprise seeing as it was built between 1951 and 1953 — the heyday of the post-WWII Red Scare. It’s basically the Pentagon, but as a huge, ultra-safe underground structure that was (at least theoretically) self-sufficient enough to shelter the country’s best and brightest for an indeterminate period of time. Some of its tunnels are large enough to house several large buildings that, in turn, are designed to house hundreds of high-ranking folks. The site also has its own power plant, two water reservoirs, and even a well-stocked bar. Being a military project, its price tag was equally impressive — its original budget of $35 million eventually ballooned into $350 million, adjusted for inflation.

Despite all of its obsolete Cold War glory, Raven Rock remains fully staffed even today. It was even used for emergency evacuation during the 9/11 attacks, when Vice President Dick Cheney sought shelter there. However, it’s hardly a top secret location — in fact, the Obama administration even started offering tours of the site as part of their “Weekend at Camp David” program.

1. The Oppidum

And then there is the Oppidum. Where other luxury bunkers stuff their underground complexes with high-end features and millionaire opulence, this super-secure compound in the Czech Republic takes things even further.  Apart from the five-star nuclear bunker comfort you’d expect at this point of the list, the Oppidum’s living quarters are two-part affair where you can go from living in your palatial above-ground residence to an equally lush underground bunker, which can be sealed with a sturdy blast door in under a minute.

Because the whole structure is surrounded by mountains and located in a peaceful country with no ready enemies, it’s unlikely to be nuked to oblivion in the first place, but should the situation demand taking things underground, the massive two-level bunker is reportedly the most luxurious “residential doomsday shelter” in the world. Incidentally, it’s also the largest, at a ridiculous 323,000 square feet. The Oppidum isn’t shy about using all that space for sheer extravagance, either; apart from unexpectedly fancy living quarters, the complex features amenities such as a spa, a wine cellar, and even a nice garden with “simulated natural light.” Oh, and to protect the luxury compound from attacks by mutants of the radioactive post-apocalyptic wasteland, the Oppidum also features state-of-the-art defense systems, ranging from high walls and sensors to “automated defense technology.”


North Korean Dreamin’ –

WIF Underground

Magical Mythical Tour – WIF Guide to Legendary Places

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Mythical Places You

Can Visit Right Now

Atlantis! Valhalla! Shangri-La! Paradise locations shown over and over in movies, games and TV. Places of wealth, beauty and happiness that belong entirely in myth. If you found out one of them was real, you’d probably get on a plane before finishing this…oh, there you go. Well, while you’re readying that road trip, you can read up on some of the places of legend you can actually check out.

Hold on to your butts, gang, because while Shangri-La might not be real, you’d be amazed to find out some of the incredible mythological landmarks that are.

10. Mount Olympus, Home of the Gods

mtolympus

Olympus, home of the gods. A golden, sparkling, iridescent paradise where no mortal man dare tread. In Greek mythology, the likes of Zeus, Hera, and Ares shared a pad at the top of a mountain in what would certainly have been the greatest Real World season of all-time. As with most things in myth, it’s also based on a very real place.

The highest mountain in Greece, Mount Olympus, to be exact. You probably could have guessed that, considering that’s what it was called in the myths, too. You’ve got to hand it to the Greeks – they could find any number of new and inventive ways for Zeus to take advantage of a mortal woman, but coming up with fake names for physical locations was where they drew the line with creative license. Rising high above Greece and its citizens, you can visit this treacherous terrain yourself, if you don’t mind climbing a large and snowy mountain. Don’t expect gods at the top though, just a beautiful view.

9. Troy, Site of the Trojan War  

troy

Troy. You might know it more from the Brad Pitt movie than from mythology, but it’s a well-spring that fueled the works of Homer. Here is where the Trojan war was fought, and heroes of legends were made, including Odysseus, and Achilles of the treacherous heel and even more wobbly accent that Pitt decided to give him. Ending with sea monsters and started by the Goddess of Discord, the Trojan War and its home were long thought myths. But Troy is a real place, because again – the Greeks sucked at creating fantasy lands.

Discovered in the 1800s, Troy is located in Turkey and was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1998. Though it is not in the same shape it was during the war, you can still touch the walls of Troy, behind which the Trojan Horse was rolled in.

8. The Fountain of Youth

fountainofyouth

The Fountain of Youth. The spring of eternal life and ultimate desire of Ponce de Leon. Sought after by early settlers of North America, the Fountain of Youth is up there with El Dorado (the Lost City of Gold) with myths of the New World.

However, unlike that shining Mecca, the Fountain of Youth does exist. Despite its name, however, there’s no everlasting life to be found for youhere. But there is wonderfully pure mineral water, a lovely tour, and Florida’s sunny weather. Located in St. Augustine, it really seems all-too fitting that the Fountain of Youth would be in Florida, doesn’t it? Suddenly we’re realizing why everyone’s grandparents move down there as soon as their social security checks start rolling in.

7. Atlantis of the Sands

iram

Atlantis, the sunken city of Greek myth is, sadly, not real. However, its cousin city – a city consumed by sand, not water – is.

Iram of the Pillars, the Atlantis of the Sands, is a fabled lost city destroyed by God in the Quaran for her sins – sort of an Islamic Sodom and Gammorah. It’s known by another name though, one which Lawrence of Arabia used for it – Ubar. Located in a place that is almost as mythical as Atlantis, the Rub’ al-Khali (the Empty Quarter), one of the most isolated and inhospitable places on Earth, Ubar was recently uncovered in the desert wasteland. It was originally a trading post for the brave souls who dared to venture from one side of the Quarter to the other. You can travel there – if you dare – but be warned, legends warn the city is populated by spirits you can’t see…but that can see you.

6. Middle Earth (The Shire)

hobbit

We’re cheating a little with this one, but Middle Earth is as fantastical as Valhalla or the Fountain of Youth with the proverbial kids these days. The land created by JRR Tolkein in his groundbreaking Lord of the Rings series is a wonderful place; from the dark mountains of Mordor, to the plains of Gondor, to the peaceful home of the Hobbits, in the Shire, it’s a land of myth and magic. And, as with the others on this list, you can go visit yourself.

While the New Zealand landscape (along with some hefty CGI) served as the stand in for Mordor, Rohan, and Gondor, Hobbiton itself is actually all there. Just prior to filming, they constructed an entire village that you can visit. There are even tours of the Shire. Now, we know that Tolkien actually based Middle Earth in Europe, and specifically the UK, but the movies and their locations embody the spirit of Tolkien as well as any physical locations used as a basis for the books.

Go see where Bilbo’s going away party was, walk the roads Frodo did as he left the Shire, and see where Sam lived as he penned the last words inthe saga of The Lord of the Rings. Chances are you’ll never want your trip to the Shire to end, which is fitting given how long they stretched outReturn of the King.

5. Roanoke Colony

croatoan

Roanoke’s mystery has plagued the world since the beginning of America. Early settlers came to the New World looking to make a new life, only to vanish, seemingly without a trace. The only clue to their disappearance was a mysterious word scrawled on a nearby tree – Croatoan. No one knew what it meant and the legend that the colony was wiped out by some supernatural entity has grown over the years, presumably never to be solved.

Except that’s not true, like, at all. The mystery was solved before it even began. Before settling, the early colonists told those who would follow that if they needed to leave for any reason, they would leave a sign of where they were going, and so they did. The mysterious “Croatoan” carved into the tree? That should have immediately tipped people off as to what happened.

The Croatoans were a tribe who lived in the area, on a nearby island. The early settlers travelled to the island, lived there, and even had children with the Croatoans. So if you want to see what happened to the early settlers of Roanoke, just stop by Hatteras Island and see for yourself.

4. Hindu Kingdom of God

kingdomofgod

Rama is the blue-skinned avatar of the Supreme God in Hinduism. His most famous story is about his fight against Ravana – a many armed, many headed king of Lanka – who kidnapped Rama’s most beloved wife, Sita, and held her captive. To get her back, he built (with the help of a monkey god, because even Hinduism appreciates a buddy comedy featuring talking simians) a huge bridge and travelled from his Kingdom to get her back.

And you can actually see all of that. Well, apart from the monkey god, regrettably. Lanka is now Sri Lanka, and the bridge is famous in the area, known as either Adam’s Bridge or Rama’s Bridge. It used to be an entire land bridge joining India and Sri Lanka, which is where Rama’s Kingdom was. Rama was a king of an actual place in India, called Adodhya. You can go live through the whole adventure, starting off in India, travelling across his bridge and finally getting to Sri Lanka. You’ll have to provide your own monkey sidekick, though.

3. Themiscyra, Home to Wonder Woman 

wonderwoman

Wonder Woman is one of the most popular superheroes of all-time, despite what Hollywood wants to believe. She came from a beautiful paradise island called Themiscyra, home to warrior women who can compete with gods. It’s based on a mythological place in Greek mythology, and warrior women found in poems detailing the Trojan War. And like most things in the poem, it was considered mythological.

But, if you’ve been paying attention, you can probably figure out thatThemiscyra is actually real. Don’t expect the Wonder Woman movie to be filmed on location though. Unlike the others mentioned on this list, Themiscyra itself was completely destroyed but you can still visit the former location on the coast of the Black Sea, which looks as close to Paradise as you’re likely to find on this list.

2. Gates of Hell

gatesofhell

Travelling to the underworld is a popular journey for heroes of myth, whether it’s to save a loved one, or to gain hidden knowledge. Dante travelled through Hell in his Inferno; Orpheus to save his beloved. All damned souls will pass through the gates to the underworld, and it’s where demons and Satan make their way up to torment us. However, almost all gates of Hell are real places. Now, they are distinctly lacking the ability to transport you to Hell, but there are dozens of them.

From the Cape Matapan Caves, where Greek heroes descended to the underworld; to Hekla, an Icelandic volcano considered the eternal home of Judas Iscariot; to Actun Tunichil Muknal, the terrifying cave network underworld of the Mayans – the Gates of Hell are everywhere.

So, uh, great? Hey, at least it’ll cut down on our travel time once the end rolls around.

1. Armageddon 

Tel_megido

The End of Time. Not to be confused with a lousy Ben Affleck movie that you’d never admit to crying at (but you totally did), Armaggedon is from the Bible – the end of time, the battle between Satan and God for the whole Universe. However, in the Bible, Armaggedon isn’t the name of the battle, but the name of the actual battlefield.

Yes, Armaggedon is a real place. It’s located in Israel, and is protected as a World Heritage site. It’s known today as Megiddo. A tel (a type of false hill built from many different people settling in the same area) Megiddo has been home to many different people and wars. Luckily, though, none of them have involved the end of the world. While visiting the birth place of Christ and his crucifixion, make sure to stop by and check out where he’ll come back.

Magical Mythical Tour

– WIF Guide to Legends