Archive for the ‘Czech Republic’ Category

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Just like Miskovice SAM Base, the facilities located near the village of Tocna – suburbs of Prague – were intended to defend the capital of the country against any air attack from the NATO countries. Considering the similarities – after all the bases were part of the same system – I will use the text I wrote to Miskovice:

For 45 years, USA and Soviet Union kept a tense relationship. From both sides of Europe – western and eastern – an incredible war arsenal was positioned, ready for the was which fortunately never came. Prague was by then the capital city of Czechoslovakia, therefore, part of “the other side”. The country was an important link of the Warsaw Pact, hosting the Soviet headquarters for the Central Army. Czech foreign policy was completely subordined to Soviet Union interests.

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With the end of the Cold War and reduction of Defense budgets, many military facilities were abandoned. Amongst them, a network of air defence missile bases around Prague. It was their mission to protect the city against air attacks. Tocna was part of such system. Nowadays, from the ten or so bases of the kind which were installed near Prague, only Tocna and Miskovice can be freely explored. The others, are either in the hands of private owners or still active as military facilities.

Personally I prefer Tocna over Miskovice. Not only one can combine the visit with one fine hiking trail which will cross the hilly woods leading to the historical town of Zbraslav, but also there is more to explore on the site.

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In this picture you see the village of Tocna. The base area is marked with the red line. Nearby there is a set of buildings which are active civilian business.

Coordinates of the access:  49° 58.630’N  14° 25.570’E

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Oh this was really strange. I left home for a walk in the woods, and that’s what I was doing when I saw a structure in the middle of all that green. I walked towards it… with time I developed a gift to smell these places. So, all of the sudden I was entering an abandoned military facility. No idea what it used to be, but doubtlessly military. I don’t even know where it was. I was just wandering in the nature, you see…

So there isn’t much more I can write. The only sure thing is that this was the most awkward urbex experience I had so far. Never before did I found a site by cheer chance. There were some underground room, accessible by stairs, but I had no source of light whatsoever so I couldn’t explore them.

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For 45 years, USA and Soviet Union kept a tense relationship. From both sides of Europe – western and eastern – an incredible war arsenal was positioned, ready for the was which fortunately never came. Prague was by then the capital city of Czechoslovakia, therefore, part of “the other side”. The country was an important link of the Warsaw Pact, hosting the Soviet headquarters for the Central Army. Czech foreign policy was completely subordined to Soviet Union interests.

With the end of the Cold War and reduction of Defense budgets, many military facilities were abandoned. Amongst them, a network of air defence missile bases around Prague. It was their mission to protect the city against air attacks. Miskovice was part of such system.

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We reach Miskovice, in the northern end of Prague, using a bus from the city public transportation company. It will drop us a few hundred meters from the entrance of Miskovice former base. In the short walk to the spot where once the gates were located, we will observe the way people used the withdrawn of the military to cover the area, taking grounds which used to be strictly forbidden. There now stands a multitude of small weekend houses and vegetable-gardens.

The small base was strategically placed, only a few kilometers far from the air force field of Kbely. It was here that a fair number of Soviet military units and support materials were dropped during the invasion of 1968. Nowadays Kbely has a minor operational role, operating helicopters and cargo planes. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Miskovice was deactivated.

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The area of the base wasn’t that big. A walk from end to end of the perimeter will take about 300 meters. Still, it was enough to host an efficient force of SAM (Surface to Air) missiles S-125. In the area we will find a few small bunkers, used for storing the missiles, as well as controlling and commanding the operations. We will be able to walk through some of these facilities with the help of a few torches. Although modest and vandalized, these facilities may offer us an idea of day to day life during those times marked by the tension of Cold War, when westerners were definitely the potential enemy for the Czechs.

The kind of missiles which used to be in this base.

The kind of missiles which used to be in this base.

Despite the neglected aspect, we sill can use our imagination to feel the atmosphere os past days. Crossing the asphalted tracks we almost can see the jeep of the commander passing by, heading for the main courtyard, where the launchers were disposed. One can easily imagine the exercises, the days of tension in the barracks, while Kennedy and Krutschev played their games over Cuba. Or the sentries, walking around the fence, carrying their AK-47. It could be a scene of a Bond movie.

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Entering coordinates:  50° 9.376’N  14° 33.024’E

This visit was part of a set of activities which took place during my recent visit to my old friends in Prague, where I used to live. Although the hiking itself was a bit crappy (too much asphalt and wide trails), I had great pleasure visiting this place. You see, this is apparently the former missile base where USA planned to install a huge radar site, which would work with a missile interceptors base in Poland. Well, all this was part of an ambitious project developed in the last years of G.W.Bush as President of US. In the Czech Republic the agreement raised endless protests. I remember the demonstrations and all the bad talk. Basically nobody wanted the radar base in the country.


Anyway, Mr. Obama came to the power in the White House and the whole thing was cancelled. Which I didn’t know until my friends told me. The site is still an interesting area although, due to unknown reasons, access became more difficult recently. Just a couple months ago my friends visited the area and the walls and fences were basically falling apart, with multiple crossing points. However, to our surprise, we found the perimeter – or at least the bit my friends were familiar with – was recently fixed with fresh barriers. Fortunately we found a “get in” spot and in we were

The freshly placed fixing in the walls and fences made us a bit nervous. We didn’t know what was going on inside. Soon we calmed down a bit when we saw a local mushrooms picker following us through the same hole. Then we spot a car… two cars… again, a bit stress. But it turns out they were just Czechs basically doing what we were doing, who somehow found a place to trespass with cars.

We extensively explored buildings and underground bunkers. Torch is highly advised. The three huge ramps are impressive. Highly visible on Google Earth, but only on the spot you really become aware of its size. No clue about the exact purpose of the ramps though.


There is plenty of information about the whole Radar – Missile in Czech Republic and Poland thing. This is one a good reading:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6720153.stm

To get there, take a bus from Smichovské bus station, to Mnisek pod Brdy, then do the walk. It’s possible to shorten the distance by taking a connecting bus to a closer village, Kytin. All lovely. By the way… hole coordinates: N49 51.079 E14 10.330

Milovice, Czech Republic

Posted: December 1, 2010 in Czech Republic

Milovice area has a long military tradition. During the First Czechoslovak Republic, created imediately after First World War, several units of the newborn army were accomodated there. Then, Second World War came, and the Germans tookover. From 1938 to 1945 Luftwaffe had a few units stationed in Milovice air base, but it was after the Russian invasion of 1968 that Milovice strategic importance reached its peak. There was established the headquarter of Soviet Central Group of Forces in a bunker thay we may have the chance to visit.

We will arrive to Milovice village by train, approximately one hour after our departure from Prague. The walk to the military perimeter it’s easy and short. Once there we will start our exploration. We will spot a few buildings and bunkers as well as repairing facilities.

After this preliminar contact, we will cross the airstrip, where twenty years ago the last Mig-29 took-off, back to Russia. The hangars are locked, but we can walk the grounds where the 114th Regiment of Interceptors used to be stationed.

Then we will start exploring the surrounding facilities. It’s a labyrinth of structures, houses, and office spaces. In a wall we see the remainings of all the festive shooting from the day russians left. Further ahead, an impressive pile of empty bottles of vodka and old documents typed in cyrilic alphabet.

In other places, the vestiges are more personal: newspaper cut-outs, wall inscriptions mentioning western “institutions” like Coke-Cola and Bon Jovi. Finally we will arrive to one of the most impressive spots: a residencial area, with four storey buildings. Everything is wide open. We can freely explore each individual apartment. We almsot can feel the “ghosts” there. Under the wallpaper we find old russian newspapers, used as isolation material. Eventually, some personal belongings may be found, like teethbrushes.

After the residental area we can visit the social center, a devastated theater, a gymnasium. From here we will walk to the spot where the headquarter was located. We will spot some residential blocks, but these were totally renovated, looking brand new, still waiting for buyers. Then, it’s the countryside. Fields of flowers, quietness. A small hideout for deers hunters. Finally we arrive to the last military area we will be visiting. Sometimes people play paintball there, and in that case we should stay away. If the area is safe we will enter the bunker once used by the headquarter of Soviet Central Group of Forces.

Once in our way back, we will walk trough an impressive forest, and finally we will cross the airstrip for the last time, where we will able to imagine the deafening noise of jet engines of three Mig-29 simultaneously taking-off. Just before taking the train, we may stop – if you wish so – in a local pub where we may be able to enjoy a fresh beer and some pickled cheese (the Czech “hermelin” delicassy).

Text from my Guided Tours in Czech Republic website: czechfunfan.com