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Paklenica - Military bunkers from the 1950s in a new role

08 July 2012

NP Paklenica, Velebit
Underground tunnels, the so-called Bunkers, built in the canyon of Velika Paklenica at the time of strained relations between the former Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union between 1950 and 1953, are being turned into a modern presentation center, which will soon become the exhibition space for the Museum of Velebit.

Velika Paklenica was an ideal place for building shelters because of the rocky canyons which protected from air attacks. The shelter was built by 500 soldiers and prisoners, and everything was conducted in the utmost secrecy. The entrance to the park was closed to the public, not even the locals had a right of access. The bunkers were never completely finished because after Stalin's death the construction site was abandoned and the hatches were closed. The bunkers were opened for the first time in 1991, when a metal door was removed from them. They were then used by the Croatian army as a warehouse, but after the war the Paklenica bunkers completed their military-war role. Today, an area of more than 2000 square meters and 500 meters of tunnels are being turned into a modern presentation center which will include the museum of Velebit. Other facilities will also be constructed: a large multimedia hall, a restaurant, a rock-climbing equipment store, a first aid clinic, offices and a gift shop.

Upon completion of this ambitious project, the National Park Paklenica will have an unusual tourist attraction that will enrich its offer. It is visited by around 120 000 visitors annually.

Paklenica was declared a National Park in 1949. It stretches across the coastal slope of southern Velebit, just above the village of Marasovići and covers an area of torrential flows of Velika and Mala Paklenica and their distinctive canyons carved vertically into the southern slopes of Velebit. On a relatively small area there is an abundance of geomorphologic phenomena and forms, diverse plant and wildlife, attractive landscapes and unspoiled nature. The richness of plant life is reflected in the list of previously recorded 1000 species and subspecies of which 79 are endemic. Paklenica is therefore considered to be an extremely valuable area not only in Croatia but also in Europe and worldwide.

The Tourist Board of Zadar County

National park Paklenica

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