Devínska Kobyla: The abandoned missile base in Slovakia

During my research for photo spots this winter I discovered an interesting lost place not too far from Vienna. It’s a former Soviet air defense missile base on a small hill near Bratislava in Slovakia. It’s known by the name Devinska Kobyla and roughly one hour by car from Vienna. Its purpose was to defend Bratislava against a potential invasion from the west.

According to my research, this base was abandoned around 1983 and was still off limits for a few more years. Today, all the gates and warning signs are gone and the place is freely accessible. My friend Mike and I even met a dozen of people hiking there. We also met a group of young Slovaks having a picknick in the area.

Probably because this lost place is freely accessible, there’s nothing left inside the buildings. Everything that was of potential value is gone: metal handrails, wires, furniture, even toilets and washbowls have been taken. Instead, you’ll find lots of graffiti in that place.

Know before you go

First, there’s almost no cell phone coverage on the hill except for a few spots.

To get to the spot, take a car to this place I’ve linked in Google Maps and park your car. You know you’ve reached that place once you see the boom gate. From here, take a 30-45 minute hike uphill. Stay on the main road and you’ll encounter some abandoned sheds. They’re nothing special and not all of them are accessible.

Continue on the main road uphill and eventually you’ll see the 3 story residential building to your left. This is the place to start your exploration tour.

The entire tour will take you roughly three hours if you decide to crawl into each bunker there. There are basically two great spots

The residential building at Devínska Kobyla

This is the spot you’ll see. It’s near the main road to your left. It’s a three story building. The stairs inside were still intact as of April 2018: only the handrails were missing. All floors have the same layout except for the first floor. It seems like there was a kitchen and cafeteria. A great photo spot because of the colorful graffiti and a fallen over wall. I’ve no idea what the tires are doing in the kitchen, but what the hell!

The room behind this hole could have once been a kitchen

The room behind this hole could have once been a kitchen

A second spot for great photos is the stairwell. I strongly recommend using a fisheye lens there. I took this one using the Moment Superfish Lens and then ran the final photo through SKRWT to fix the bent lines.

Use a fisheye lens to get this shot if the stairwell in the abandoned residential building

Use a fisheye lens to get this shot if the stairwell in the abandoned residential building

Finally, then ground floor is a great place to phot9graph, too. The wooden ceiling was partially fallen down. Be careful on the ground floor. There’s a quite dark area with two doors. Behind those doors is something like a cellar - 6 feet down with no stairs!

Bunkers and Hangars

Once you’re done in the residential building, continue along the main road. You’ll pass by a few more unspectacular sheds and three garages until you reach a place that probably was a car wash. Go back and turn right and follow the road uphill. Now you’ll encounter three bunkers with hangers where, most likely, the mobile missile launchers were hidden from air surveillance.

My good friend Mike standing in front of a hangar entrance

My good friend Mike standing in front of a hangar entrance

You have to look closely to find them all. They’re hidden in the woods. Follow the small trails leaving the main road to get to the huge hangars.

The bunkers at Devinska Kobyla are well hidden in the woods.

The bunkers at Devinska Kobyla are well hidden in the woods.

For each hangar, there’s also a bunker that’s accessible either through a door in the back or on the of the hangar. Those narrow corridors inside the bunkers connect the hangars. They’re narrow and the doors between the corridors are only 3 feet in height. Don’t go in there if you’re not comfortable in narrow, cold, dark and wet places.

Inside a a bunker at Devinska Kobyla

Inside a a bunker at Devinska Kobyla

Bonus: Great View over the Danube valley

Once you’ve explored the last bunker, keep left until you reach the wall surrounding the area. To the left there’s a huge gap in the wall. Pass it and continue a small trail and you’ll be rewarded with a great view over the Danube Valley. A great place to take a break before you head back to your car.

Apps and gear I used to take iPhone photos at Devínska Kobyla

To photograph inside those buildings and bunkers, I used either ProCamera in Low Light Mode or Hydra App (Check out my review) for the better lit places. My iPhone X was permanently mounted to my Amazon Basics Travel Tripod that, so far, survived all the lost lost places I’ve been to, including Chernobyl. I used Joby Bluetooth remote control (Amazon Link) as a shutter release, that recently replaced my Muku Shuttr that broke after several years of heavy use.

Inside the residential building I used the Moment Superfish Lens.

Back home, I edited all the photos in Lightroom Mobile. You can see a few more shots of that trip on Flickr.

To record some video, I used the DJI Osmo 2 mobile (Get it from Amazon) and to brighten the dark corridors I had the Olight S30R III flashlight.

And finally, here are some more lost places I’ve visited during the last years.