Beijing's Underground City

地下城 - Nuclear City


Useful Information

Location: North ChongWen District at Xidamochang Jie. Qianmen Dongdajie.
Open: closed. [2020]
Fee: closed. [2020]
Classification: SubterraneaSecret Bunker SubterraneaUnderground City
Light: electric
Dimension: L=30,000m.
Guided tours:
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no, many staircases
Bibliography:
Address: Beijing's Underground City, 62 West Damochang Street, Qianmen, Tel: 6702-2657.
Beijing Qianmen Carpet Factory, 44 Xingfu Dajie, Chongwen District, Qianmen, Tel: 6701-5079.
18 Dazhalan Jie, Qianmen.
Beijing Underground City Museum, Xidamochang Jie, Qianmen.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1969 Sino-Soviet border conflict, start of construction.
1979 construction completed.
2000 officially opened to foreigners.
FEB-2008 closed for renovation.

Description

What is simply called Beijing's Underground City or Nuclear City is a vast system of bomb shelters beneath the ancient capital's downtown area. Built during the 1970s by more than 300,000 local citizens and even school children, it has 30 kilometers of passages and covers an area of 85 square kilometers. The shelters are eight to eighteen meters below the surface. The 1,000 anti-air raid structures are big enough to house 40% of the capital's population. The structure has also been called the Underground Great Wall or Nuclear City.

Beneath the extraordinary and overwhelming size there is also a second parallel to the Great Wall: it is futile. It was never used, and probably it would not have worked very well if there would have been the need to use it in case of nuclear attack. The best thing the locals can do with this structure is to earn some tourist money.

There are many tunnels and other structures. One of them was officially opened to tourists, others are used as low priced hostels, have been transformed into shopping and business centers, or theaters, the rest is shut off for safety reasons. The tourist venue was accessed via a small shop front in Qianmen, south of Tiananmen. Unfortunately for unknown reasons it was closed in 2008, allegedly for safety reasons. It is still closed in 2020, so it seems there is no need for a tourist destination, obviously no demand or probably it is not politically intended. There is currently no official tourist venture to see the bunker, but as it is used by a million people it is actually a part of the city, and it should be possible to visit the inhabited parts. But as always in China, there is the problem that it might not be politically correct to go there. Many locations are patrolled by a guard to keep foreigners out. If you are interested to see an actually inhabited room and the infrastructure of restaurants, bars, and shops, we guess you ask your Chinese tour guide if he knows an inhabitant who is willing to show his home.