Balaklava is a small village on the southern Crimean peninsula and here lay a Soviet submarine base. Stalin was frightened by the devastating effect of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and therefore ordered the construction of a submarine base inside the rock so secure that it could withstand a direct hit by an atomic bomb. In 1957 the base was ready and Balaklava literally disappeared from the map for privacy reasons. Those who worked and lived in the city needed special passports to get in. The others had no access to the city. The choice of building a submarine base in Balaklava was that the city’s port was located inside a bay that could not be seen from the outside and that it was protected by surrounding mountains. Balaklava was thus quite easy to isolate from the outside world. The Soviet nuclear submarines entered the port via a narrow passage from the sea and further into the mountain. There they were repaired and serviced before they again ran into the Black Sea via another hidden opening out to the sea. Those who worked in the submarine base worked in shifts and each shift had its special tasks. It was strictly forbidden to talk about their duties and the employees were constantly supervised by political commissars. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the submarine base continued to exist until 1993 when it was finally dismantled and in 1996 the last Russian submarine left the base. The base was then plundered on everything of value.

Current status: Preserved with museum (2007).

Location: 44°30'03.4"N 33°35'47.5"E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

Even if the technical equipment is gone, it is really exciting to wander around inside the mountain. Thoughts go undeniably to the James Bond movie, The Spy who Loved me (1977). In 2007, the museum could only be visited in the company of a guide. Expect that the English language skills are non-existent both at the museum and in Balaklava.

Follow up in books: Gaddis, John Lewis: The Cold War: A New History (2006).