The Best Kept Secret of SFR Yugoslavia, facility D-0, with the code name “Istanbul” and later nicknames “Army’s Reserve Command”, “Atomic War Command” and “Tito’s bunker”, was built in complete secrecy over the course of 26 years – between 1953 and 1979. The construction costs amounted to 4.6 billion US dollars, which would today equal to more than 10 billion US dollars. Located near the town of Konjic in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is known as the third biggest investment of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The core purpose of the Object D-0 ARK was to take in, accommodate and protect Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito and members of Headquarters of the Supreme Command, the Presidency and the Government of Yugoslavia, and enable their successful management and command over the armed forces in case of country crisis and nuclear warfare.
The Cold War (in which SFRY had a very specific role), was time of fears of a nuclear disaster, but also a time of utopian ideas about world peace and the present time, which is characterized by an apocalyptic scenario of the end of the world. Hence, object D-0 was created to make sure that important persons and intelligence of Yugoslavia would survive that cataclysm.
The construction of the object began in 1953, as decided by the highest-ranking commanders of the former Yugoslav People’s Army. The information about the object was known only to Tito himself, Chief of Federal Secretary of People’s Defense (SSNO), Chief of Headquarters of Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA), Chief of State Security Administration, and Chief of Communications of Federal Secretary of People’s Defense. In 1979 the object was officially handed to the crew of former JNA, which consisted of 16 officers.
The object occupies a space of approximately 6.400 square meters with its lowest point at 280 meters below ground, and is made up of 12 connected blocks in which one may find residential areas, conference rooms, offices, strategic planning rooms, and other areas. The object is divided into 3 major parts: 1. Outer area (above-ground) which consists of 3 buildings resembling weekend cottages to provide camouflage for the three entrances into the object 2. Tunnels which connect the outer and the protected part of the object and which aim to amortize the nuclear strike 3. Protected area of the object where 21 systems were built to technically maintain the object. The capacity of the protected area of the object “ARK” can accommodate 350 persons for an indefinite amount of time and give them protection from a nuclear strike of 25 kilotons, while offering optimal life and work conditions by maintaining the constant air temperature of 21 to 23 Celsius degrees and relative air humidity of 50 to 60 promiles.
Today the facility is preserveing intact with all its symbols of the social, economical, political and ideological system of Socialist Yugoslavia and since 2011. when first exibition of contemporary art biennial project happenswith the fact that during the war of the 1990s many monuments in the former Yugoslavia were destroyed, ARK is a unique exhibition space, a nontraditional artistic setting from both a psychological and intellectual point of view. Therefore since 2011. D-0 ARK is becoming hybrid museum between military, historical and contemporay artefacts.
The complete secrecy of D-0 was kept until after the breakup of Yugoslavia – in 1992, when the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army soldiers left the object and handed it over to Territorial Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and later Army of B&H and Armed Forces of B&H.
However, the veil of secrecy still heavily surrounded the object up until 2000, when guided tours became available only for diplomats in B&H who were given a special permission of the Ministry of Defense of B&H.
Guided tours for general public became available only in 2011, when Ministry of Defense of B&H, in presence of NATO, proclaimed that the object had no military perspective, everything moved by the idea of contemporary art project called “Biennial D-0 ARK Underground” which was implemented for the first time and proclaimed as cultural event of Eurpe by Council od Europe.
From that moment on, the object whose infrastructure is preserved intact with all its symbols of the social, economic, political and ideological system of Socialist Yugoslavia and up-to-date technology of the past, opened its doors to visits from all around the world.
Since 2011, “Tito’s bunker” is a home to the first exhibition of contemporary art biennial project “Biennial D-0 ARK”. After the devastating war in the 1990s in which many monuments in the former Yugoslavia were destroyed, ARK arose as a unique exhibition space and offered a truly nontraditional artistic setting; originally designed as an atomic shelter, an object of great historical significance. The goal of the Project is to transform a site still officially under military control into a prestigious regional cultural institution at the forefront of emerging artistic trends. The project seeks to preserve cultural heritage and a historical structure, as well as to create artistic value and reestablish broken connections between artists and creative people in the region.
As a result, Project D-0 ARK has been recognized in the last eight years as a worthy promoter of regional cultural values and has been rightfully proclaimed as a Cultural event of Europe in 2011 by the Council of Europe. The recognition of the importance and quality of the project continues up until today: Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina gave a patronage to the Project Biennial in 2011; in 2013 and 2015 Project Biennial has been organized under the UNESCO patronage; from 2009 onwards, six countries joined the organization of this Project – Ministers of Culture of the Republic of Austria, Montenegro, Republic of Turkey, Republic of Croatia, Republic of Serbia, Republic of Italy, Republic of Germany and Minister of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina have signed Declarations of support to the Project Biennial as the most important regional cultural project.
The four biennials that took place since 2011 resulted in creating a collection at “Tito’s bunker” that consists of 131 artworks created by 107 artists from 32 countries who represented their countries at the Venice Biennale – the world’s biggest and oldest contemporary art scene. The remaining artworks are created by the young and aspiring talents from Bosnia and Herzegovina and other parts of the region. The experts claim that our collection is the best collection of contemporary art in the South-East Europe region, with an estimate value of 8 million euros.
The artworks correspond to the space – they are thematically connected with the Cold War and the ambience of object, and thus, successfully accentuate its extraordinary features and cultural significance. At the same time, they move the boundaries of perceiving the galleries of contemporary art by going out of the box of the traditional and conventional exhibitions in the world. Such a context and the new purpose of the object, which transforms it into a hybrid museum of military history and contemporary art, has raised much interest of the world intelligence and placed this story on the pages of the world’s most famous printed and electronic media (New York Times, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera etc.).
Such a phenomenon also continuously awakens the curiosity of ordinary citizens and attracts two kinds of visitors to head to the city of Konjic: those particularly interested in military and political history and those inclined to arts.
Finally, D-0 ARK became a symbol of the power of culture to build bridges between people and thus represents a place of dialogue and openness. It enables researching the relations (and mutual conditioning) between the divided global society in times of imposed peace, balance of blocks that in the same time meant division in the sphere of interests (sphere of influence, common identities, joint political systems…) and strategy of maintaining the balance conditioned by the imaginary scenarios of possible conflicts and new end of the world, as well as today’s’ world which is defined by global market logic, media society and generally accepted cultural patterns and identity. The coexistence and clashes of these aspects bring us to a whole range of interesting questions and dilemmas.
Additional details about the contemporary art project “D-0 ARK” are available at www.bijenale.ba
Atomic shelter “D-0 ARK” has been declared a national heritage monument and placed on the list of protected Cultural and Historical Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina in June 2014 by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of B&H, which confirmed its historical value, and enriched the city of Konjic with one of the most important monuments in the region.
Reveal the best kept secret of SFR Yugoslavia: enter the world of characters who had once ruled over the world and who had never once thought that their castles and portraits, uniforms and service ware, would cease to be secrets, become public goods and end up on lists of historical and cultural heritage for some new civilizations!
The D-0 ARK offers guided visits on each week day, in the following hours:
Mon/Wen/ Fri at 10 , 12 am and 2 pm
Tue/Thu at 12 am
Sat/ Sun at 10 and 12 am.
For groups with 10 or less people there is no need for reservation, just you need to show up in front of the bunker at scheduled time..
For groups with more then 10 persons we can reserve tours in period 9 am till 4 pm every day.
Reserve here Visiting tours and reservations
Thank you for your interest! We wish you a pleasant and safe journey to
“The Greatest Secret of SFRY”!
We’re looking forward to seeing you!