Festung Kirkenes

Useful Information

Location: Kirkenes. Presteveien road between houses no. 19 and 21.
Open: 15-JUN to 20-AUG daily 10-13. [2006]
Fee: Adults NOK 100. [2006]
Classification: SubterraneaWorld War II Bunker
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Address: Andersgrotta, Radius Kirkenes AS, Tel: +47-78970540.
Kirkenes Tourist Information Center, Presteveien 1, Boks 145, N-9915 Kirkenes, Tel: +47-78992544, Fax: +47-78996087. E-mail: contact
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.


1941 construction of the bunker started.
25-OCT-1944 negotiations between the Russian forces and representatives of the civil population.
1980s bunker closed.
1990 opened to the public.


Andersgrotta (Anders Cave shelter) is a bunker from World War II. The name grotta means cave, especially natural cave, in Norwegian. However, this artifical underground structure is nevertheless called grotta. It seems to be a sort of joke, as it was built by the engineer Anders Elvebakk, and so it was called Ander's Cave. The area was occupied by the Germans at this time, they commissioned the construction of the bunker. Their name for the bunker was Festung Kirkenes (Kirkenes Fortification).

The work was started in autumn 1941, with a tunnel from the street called Tellef Dahlsgate. It was continually enlarged throughout the war. And it became very important in 1944, when Kirkenes was bombed and burned out. Hitler had given orders to seize Murmansk in order to stop the allied supplies to the Red Army. The allies started to bomb military targets in the area. More than 1,000 air raid alerts and more than 300 air raids resulted in the destruction of Kirkenes, only 230 remained intact. Although the air raids were not aimed at private homes, Kirkenes was amongst the places in Europe which were hit hardest. Beneath 9,000 civilians and thousands of russian prisoners of war, the German army used the shelter. It was big enough for 70,000 people.

In October 1944, the Nazis burned the remaining houses and pulled out. On the 25-OCT-1944 at 3 o'clock in the morning, the negotiations between the Russian forces and representatives of the civil population in the bunker's First Aid station were concluded. The inhabitants of Kirkenes were informed about the results later that day at the same place.

After the war Kirkenes was rebuilt, people moved out of the bunker, but soon the Cold War started. Because of its proximity to Russia, the bunker once again became important. It became a atomic shelter and was maintained until the end of the Cold War, when it was decomissioned. During this time, there were further improvements of the shelter, like concrete girders and pillars.

After some years of peacefulness, the place was reopened in 1990. It became one of the few tourist attractions of this remote town. The guided tour includes a short movie about the history, which is shown in Norwegian, English and German. As a matter of fact, the former enemies and occupants are now the most important tourists.