"Nuclear" tourism booms
Sunday 02 May 2010
An abandoned nuclear power plant in China has reopened as a tourist attraction, allowing people to explore the military site for the first time.
The abandoned "China 816" plant, which was only declassified in 2002, is known as the world's largest artificial cave and is designed to withstand earthquakes and a hydrogen bomb attack.
It has now been opened for domestic tourists to visit, according to the Xinhua news agency, as an attraction featuring "national defense education."
"Compared with other tourist attractions, the mystique is one of the biggest highlights of 816 Nuclear Military Cave," said Zhao Bingrong, staff of Fuling Tourism Bureau, "At present, the cave starts a small-scale trial operation."
Construction on the cave started in 1966 and over 60,000 soldiers are thought to have worked on the project. It was officially mothballed in 1984 but remained secret until its declassification.
A nuclear reactor housed in an 80 meter high cave and old computer equipment are amongst the reported content of the caves. In total, there are 18 main caverns, more than 130 tunnels and branch caverns and the total length reaches 21 kilometers.
A similar concept is soon to open to the public in the Swiss town of Teufen. The Null Stern hotel (literally, "zero star") has been created as an art project in an abandoned nuclear bunker in northeast Switzerland and is reportedly set to open to the public as a hotel on June 5.
Created by concept artists brothers Frank and Patrik Riklin, the Null Stern hotel prides itself on being a basic counterpart to the seven-star hotels of today- a standard room comes with "genuine military bunk beds," there are no walls and hot water is limited.
Approximately 1000 people have reportedly signed up to stay at the hotel, which is also open during the day as a museum between 1 PM and 4 PM GMT from Wednesday to Sunday. The admission charge is CHF 5 (€3.50) per person.
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