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 Beijing Underground City

 For more than 20 years, Beijing's Underground City, a bomb shelter just beneath the ancient capital’s downtown area, has been virtually forgotten by local citizens, despite being well-known amongst foreigners since it officially opened in 2000.

The Underground City has also been called the Underground Great Wall, since they had the same Beijing Underground City purpose: military defense.

This complex is a relic of the Sino-Soviet border conflict in 1969 over Zhenbao Island in northeast Chinas Heilongjiang River, a time when Chairman Mao Zedong ordered the construction of subterranean bomb shelters in case of nuclear attack.

The tunnels, built from 1969 to 1979 by more than 300,000 local citizens and even school children, wind for over 30 kilometers and cover an area of 85 square kilometers eight to eighteen meters under the surface. It includes around a thousand anti-air raid structures.

Beijing Underground City

In the event of attack, the plan was to house forty percent of the capital's population underground and for the remainder to move to neighboring hills, and it is said that every residence once had a secret trapdoor nearby leading to the tunnels.

There is no authoritative information on how far the mostly hand-dug tunnels stretch, but they supposedly link all areas of central Beijing, from Xidan and Xuanwumen to Qianmen and Chongwen districts, to as far as the Western Hills.

They were equipped with facilities such as stores, restaurants, clinics, schools, theaters, reading rooms, factories, a roller skating rink, a grain and oil warehouse as well as barber shops and a mushroom cultivation farm, for growing foods that require little light.
 
Over 2,300 elaborate ventilation shafts were installed, and gas and waterproof hatches constructed to protect insiders from chemical attack and radioactive fallouBeijing Underground Cityt. There are also more than 70 sites inside the tunnels to dig wells.
 
Of course, the underground city was thankfully never needed for its intended purpose; it is now maintained and run by city officials.

Within some other shelters and parts of the city, some are now used as hostels; others have been transformed into shopping and business centers, and even theaters.


Tour groups can enter free of charge without prior permission, whilst individual tourists are charged 20 yuan (US$2.50).

 

 

 

 

 

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