Get Up Close & Historical: Repurposed Swiss Army Bunkers Part 1

Switzerland has a chain of 8000 (mostly decommissioned) army bunkers and shelters spread-out within a network beneath the country. With Switzerland keen to pare back on upkeep and maintenance spending, many have been sold off, or sealed off, while others have been set aside for historical preservation. 

Some of these safe-havens predate WW2 and many appear innocuous to the naked eye, disguised as houses, barns and even castles.

New owners have breathed life back into many of these hidden places and put them to practical use, converting them into hotels, restaurants, museums and cheese factories.

5 Decommissioned & Renovated Swiss Army Bunkers & Shelters

1. Hotel La Claustra & The Hotel Restaurant

Buried in the Gotthard mountain range, this 17 room hotel has forgone over-blown extravagance in favour of a minimalist approach. It is situated within a former army fortress nestled within a mountain face in the canton of Ticino, a little over an hour’s drive from the city of Lucerne.

The hotel restaurant is found within the cavernous army bunker beneath it.

2. Gotthard-Pilze Mushroom Factory

This decommissioned ammunitions bunker is located close-by the town of Erstfeld (in the canton of Uri). It is used by Gotthard-Pilze to produce shiitake mushrooms along with 10 other former bunkers now converted and run by the company. 24 tonnes of shiitake mushrooms make their way onto the market from these bunkers each year.

3. Artillery Fort Furggels Museum

What once was a Swiss Army artillery fort in use from 1946 to 1998 is now a museum open to all. Artillery Fort Furgell’s is located near St Margrethenberg (in the canton of St Gallen).

4. Sasso da Pigna Artillery Fort Museum

This artillery fort was in use by the army until 1999 and has now been rejigged and re-opened to the public as a museum. This museum is found at an elevation of 2,106 metres along the St Gotthard mountain pass.

5. Seiler Käserei AG Cheese Factory

This former Swiss Army ammunition bunker has been converted into a raclette cheese factory by Seiler Käserei AG. The converted bunker is located in the town of Giswil (in the canton of Obwalden).