China converts secret nuclear plant into huge concrete tourist facility
It existed as a top secret nuclear base for 17 years, but now China's 816 nuclear military plant is open to foreign tourists.
The nuclear plant was dug into the hills near the Chongqing municipality in China. More than 60,000 soldiers worked to build the facility, believed to be the biggest man made cave in the world.
Construction of the facility began in 1967, but it was operational for only 17 years, with work stopping in 1984. It's lifetime was constrained to the later stages of the Cold War, as border tensions between the Soviet Union and China started to heat up. The base was declassified in 2002.
In 2010, soldiers continued to guard it and a small section was briefly opened to Chinese nationals who were required to provide documentation to enter.
In September 2016 the base was opened for the first time to foreign tourists.
"The site is now open to foreign visitors and will allow overseas partners," site administrator Yang Yan told China Daily.
Today, the site remains a scene out of science fiction.
Huge concrete caverns are lit by newly installed lights, creating a striking atmosphere beneath the mountain.
Films of atomic warfare and imagined doomsdays are projected on the walls, through incredible and effective visual effects, CNN reported.
Other attractions have also been installed, including images of atomic mushroom clouds and Cold War displays.
"A nuclear science centre and sections devoted to patriotic education and history," have been installed within the caves, China Daily reported.
"So far, no foreigners have visited the plant," Yan said at the end of September.
Only some of the facility is open to the public.
Some areas of the mountain remain highly secretive and off limits. According to CNN, state officials were planning to open up the other two-thirds of the 816 plant later on.