If you’re looking to explore Cold War sites and want to find the best places to view Cold War history then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.
There’s a great selection of Cold War sites and you can plan some fantastic things to see on your trips. Once you’ve explored the list of Cold War places and selected those you wish to visit you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook. This indispensible holiday guide will help you make the most of your time exploring Cold War sites.
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The Bay of Pigs Museum in Miami relates to the failed 1961 attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro and is one of many interesting Cold War sites.
The Bay of Pigs Museum in Miami, Florida is dedicated to the 2506 Brigade, the group which undertook the failed attempt by to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
The Bay of Pigs invasion was undertaken by Cuban exiles supported by the CIA and US government under President John F Kennedy. In April 1961, approximately 1,400 exiles landed at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba with the aim of removing Castro.
The vast majority of the 2506 Brigade were taken captive, many other having been killed in the attack. Overall, the Bay of Pigs invasion was a major source of humiliation to Kennedy’s administration and only served to worsen the tensions of the Cold War.
The Bay of Pigs Museum in Miami houses a small collection of items, photographs and documents relating to the Bay of Pigs.
Among the most infamous Cold War sites, the Berlin Stasi Prison was a notoriously brutal Cold War prison in East Berlin from 1951 to 1989.
The Berlin Stasi Prison, also known as the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial, was an infamous East German prison run by the East German Ministry of State Security (the Stasi) during the Cold War.
Originally a canteen, in 1945 the Berlin Stasi Prison site became a detainment camp named 'Special Camp No. 3' run by the Soviet Secret Police. Transformed into a prison in 1947, it was taken over by the Stasi, also known as the MfS, in 1951.
Following the Second World War, East Germany and East Berlin were under the occupation of Soviet Russia as the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The Stasi were the official security forces of this state. The Berlin Stasi Prison in Hohenschönhausen became the remand detention centre of the Stasi, housing anyone considered to be hostile to the communist GDR. Prior to the building of the Berlin Wall, this even included West Berliners, such as the lawyer Walter Linse, who was kidnapped and taken there in 1952.
Once the Wall had been erected, many of the prisoners were attempted escapees. The Berlin Stasi Prison was notoriously brutal, with inmates being kept in tiny cells and subjected to torture to extract confessions.
The Berlin Stasi Prison was disbanded in the autumn of 1989 as the GDR began to falter. It was finally closed on 3 October 1990, when East Germany was once again united with the West. Today, the Berlin Stasi Prison is a memorial to those who were detained there and is a stark reminder of the atrocities carried out during the Cold War. Tours are offered and visitors can see a film about the prison.
The Berlin Wall was a barrier surrounding East Berlin and separating it from West Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Possibly the most famous of all Cold War sites.
The Berlin Wall was an 87 mile long concrete barrier between East and West Berlin, a symbol of the Cold War and an embodiment of the so-called ‘Iron Curtain’ between eastern and western Europe.
Originally just a barbed wire fence erected within 24 hours on 13 August 1961, a more robust, concrete version of the Berlin Wall was built on 15 August 1961.
The origins of the Berlin Wall can be found following World War II, when what remained of Nazi Germany was divided between the Allied Powers, being the Americans, British, French and the Soviet Union. Berlin, which sat in the Soviet sector, was similarly divided between the four nations.
However, when differences arose between the Soviet Union and the other three countries as to their approach to reconstructing Germany, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin declared the establishment of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and in August 1961, erected first a barbed wire barrier and then a concrete barrier, closing the border between east and west Berlin to stop Berliners from the east escaping to the other Allied controlled areas of the city.
The Berlin Wall was a matter of great controversy throughout its existence, with world leaders continually calling for it to be torn down, including John F Kennedy’s famous declaration of “Ich bin ein Berliner” and Ronald Reagan’s 1987 speech when he implored, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!".
The fall of the Berlin Wall finally occurred on 9 November 1989 and the wall was almost completely dismantled in the days and weeks that followed.
Very few segments of the wall remain. The largest, 1.3 kilometer, section can be found at the open air East Side Gallery, although small sections are dotted throughout the city. The Berlin Wall is featured as one of our Top Tourist Attractions of Germany.
The Brandenburg Gate is a Romanesque gateway, a political symbol and one of Berlin’s most famous Cold War sites.
The Brandenburg Gate is a famous landmark in Berlin built between 1788 and 1791 which once served as a city gateway. Commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia it stood in the entrance to boulevard Unter den Linden, which led to the city palace.
The Brandenburg Gate was designed by Karl Gotthard Langhans and built in a Romanesque style similar to the Propylaea, the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens, with six Doric columns on each side.
Whilst King Frederick William II intended the Brandenburg Gate to be a symbol of peace, different peoples have attached numerous meanings to it throughout its history. The Nazis adopted the Brandenburg Gate as a symbol of their party during their reign in the 1930's and 1940's and it was also a potent reminder of the Cold War when it fell into the no-man’s land within the Berlin Wall. During this time, the Brandenburg Gate formed a focal point of many politically charged rallies and speeches, including visits by American Presidents John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
A more positive symbolic attachment was formed in 1990, when, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, many viewed the Brandenburg Gate as emblematic of German reunification. Today, visitors from around the world come to see the Brandenburg Gate and its ornate carvings, including its dramatic depiction of Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory, driving a horse drawn chariot. The Brandenburg Gate features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Germany.
Among the best-known Cold War sites. checkpoint Charlie was an important crossing point in the Berlin Wall between East and West Berlin.
Checkpoint Charlie was an important crossing point in the Berlin Wall, which separated East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989.
The Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie were prominent symbols of the Cold War. At the time, West Berlin was controlled by the American, British and French forces and East Berlin by the Soviet Union.
In a bid to prevent the ongoing migration of East Berliners to the west, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin erected the Berlin Wall, closing off East Berlin from the rest of the city.
Checkpoint ‘C’, nicknamed Checkpoint Charlie based on the NATO phonetic alphabet, was the only place where Allied forces were allowed to cross the border and, at its location at the junction of Friedrichstraße with Zimmerstraße and Mauerstraße, was also the most visible checkpoint along the wall.
Checkpoint Charlie was made up of a watchtower and barriers erected by the Soviet forces, while the American forces originally had only a temporary wooden shack followed by a temporary metal structure.
Checkpoint Charlie was the site of many stand offs between the Soviet and American forces, including the October 1961 dispute over the checking of the travel documents of US officials, which culminated in both sides amassing tanks at the checkpoint.
However, it was the tragic death of attempted East Berlin escapee, Peter Fechter which attracted mass protest and some of the most poignant imagery of the time. The teenager was shot by Soviet guards as he tried to flee to the West and lay dying in the no-man's land between East and West Berlin before the world media.
The original Checkpoint Charlie is housed at the Allied Museum in Berlin-Zehlendorf, but the site now displays a replica where the original once stood as well as information about the era. Nearby is a small private museum about the checkpoint called ‘Haus am Checkpoint Charlie’.
Dealey Plaza in Texas was the site of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas was the site where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated at 12:30pm (CST) on 22 November 1963. Kennedy was the thirty-fifth President of the United States of America and served during the Cold War, his premiership encompassing events such as the Invasion of the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the building of the Berlin Wall.
At the time of his assassination, Kennedy was being driven through Dealey Plaza in an open-top car with his wife Jacqueline in the presidential motorcade. He was shot and later declared dead in the emergency room of Parkland Hospital.
The circumstances of the assassination of President Kennedy remain a source of contention. Official investigations at the time found that his killer had been Lee Harvey Oswald, who is said to have hidden on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, from where he fired the deadly shots. Oswald denied the crime. However, he was never tried as he himself was fatally shot two days later.
In the years since Kennedy’s assassination there have been numerous conspiracy theories as to who was responsible for his murder.
Dealey Plaza has changed little from the day of Kennedy’s assassination. There are several nearby monuments, such as the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza. There is also a small museum, known as the Sixth Floor Museum, in the adjacent Texas School Book Depository where Oswald is alleged to have hidden. This chronicles the life of John F Kennedy. The museum also offers audio guides to Dealey Plaza and nearby sites, which is included in the entry fee.
The Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker is an enormous, three-storey, Cold War-era subterranean shelter and operations centre in Brentwood, Essex. It was constructed in 1952.
The Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker is an enormous Cold War-era subterranean shelter and former operations centre in Brentwood, Essex.
In 1952, the spectre of the Cold War loomed ever-more menacingly over Britain. With Europe already firmly divided into two hostile and ideologically opposed camps, and with the Korean War raging in East Asia, the nuclear arms race which had begun at the end of the Second World War became increasingly frenetic. In October 1952, Britain, strategically and ideologically aligned with the United States of America, became the third country to test successfully an independently developed nuclear bomb.
It was against this terrifying backdrop that construction work began on the Kelvedon Hatch secret nuclear bunker. The subterranean space, just 25 miles northeast of London, was first used as an RAF ROTOR station. ROTOR, a project initiated by the British Government in the early 1950s, was a complex air defence radar system which sought to repel potential attacks from Soviet bombers. The bunker then briefly became a Regional Seat of Government (RSG), before finally being turned into Essex’s Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ).
The Kelvedon Hatch bunker was designed to house up to 600 civilian and military personal, including the prime minister and other high-ranking cabinet officials. In the event of a nuclear attack, the centre’s tasks would have consisted of supplying protection to nearby Ministry of Defence workers, coordinating the survival of the local population, and continuing the operations of the government.
The three-storey bunker measures 27,000 square feet and extends 100 metres below ground level. Its walls are made of ten-foot-thick concrete reinforced by tungsten rods. The structure contains roughly 80 tons of genuine Cold War-period equipment: original plotting boards, telecommunications apparatus and 1980s-era computer equipment. It is also replete with its own BBC studio, office space, living quarters, kitchen and medical room. It also contains a canteen, where refreshments are served to modern day visitors.
In 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the geostrategic realignment of Europe, Kelvedon Hatch nuclear bunker was decommissioned. The local Parish family, whose land had been requisitioned by the state in the 1950s in order to construct the site, bought the fields back from the Government. It has now been converted into a fascinating, privately owned museum.
Contributed by Maria Thomas
War Headquarters from where the defence of Malta and the invasion of Sicily were conducted during the Second World War.
The Lascaris War Rooms in Malta were important military headquarters during World War II and the setting from which the invasion of Sicily as well as many other operations and Malta’s air defences were coordinated. Located underground and comprised of a complicated web of tunnels, the existence of the Lascaris War Rooms was secret.
A Royal Navy base for years after the war, in the 1960s the Lascaris War Rooms became a strategic communication centre for NATO. Since 2009 it has been under the management of the Malta Heritage Trust and is now a popular tourist site.
Le Memorial at Caen is a history museum dedicated to World War Two and other conflicts including the Cold War.
Le Memorial at Caen is a museum of history based in northern France, not too far from the locations of the beaches where the Normandy Landings took place. Le Memorial at Caen explores the events which led up to the Normandy Landings of World War II, the Landings themselves, also known as D-Day, and the aftermath.
Le Memorial at Caen also offers day trips and longer guided tours around the sites of the Normandy Landings, which start at Caen Railway Station. Beyond its Second World War exhibits, Le Memorial at Caen also looks at the Cold War and beyond, exploring the concept of peace in the context of different conflicts.
One of the most impressive Cold War sites, the Minuteman Missile Silo complex is a Cold War missile site containing a control center and missile launch site.
The Minuteman Missile Silo is a US National Historic Site which contains a Cold War missile launch site and control center.
Visitors can tour both the control center and missile site, and can see the original living quarters and underground control facilities that would have been used by the original personnel. The tours then move on to the missile silo itself where visitors can view a Minuteman II missile through a glass roof.
The Minuteman Missile Silo site was one of many such sites which operated for over 30 years during the Cold War. Eventually, these sites were decommissioned after the signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in 1991.
The original missile site was vast and today the main attractions are spread out over a wide area.
Visitors should start their journey from the contact station where guided tours are available (note: it is advisable to book in advance as space is limited). It is also possible to view the missile site independently, visitors can call a number from their phones to access a recorded tour.
Museo Playa Girón is a Cold War history museum in Cuba focusing on the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Museo Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs Museum) in Cuba is dedicated to the Bay of Pigs invasion.
In April 1961, during the Cold War, approximately 1,400 Cuban exiles invaded the Bay of Pigs - Playa Girón – with the aim of overthrowing Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
This attack failed in its entirety, with most of the force being taken prisoner and around one hundred being killed. The Bay of Pigs invasion was particularly humiliating for the US government under President John F Kennedy, who supported the exiles in their attempted coup by land and by air as well as training them.
Today, Museo Playa Girón is a small museum near the exiles’ landing site and battle sites. It houses a collection of photographs and other historic pieces relating to the invasion, whilst outside there lie the remains of an American aircraft as well as other military vehicles. Museo Playa Girón does not currently offer any English translation of its exhibits.
The Atomic Testing Museum tells the story of the atomic age and of the more local National Testing Site.
The Atomic Testing Museum tells the story of the atomic age and of the more local National Testing Site (NTS). From 1951 to 1992, the NTS in downtown Las Vegas was the US’s main nuclear testing area.
From technical items such as Geiger counters and atomic age paraphernalia to timelines, films and even an interactive exhibit that lets you experience what it’s like to watch a nuclear test, the Atomic Testing Museum has it all.
The Atomic Testing Museum explores all aspects of the atomic era including its origins, the historical context such as the Cold War and its local and global effects. Overall, the Atomic Testing Museum is a good example of an interesting mix of history and science.
The Che Guevara Monument commemorates Cuba’s iconic revolutionary and is his final resting place and is one of many interesting Cold War sites.
The Che Guevara Monument (Monumento Ernesto Che Guevara) in Santa Clara in Cuba is dedicated to iconic political activist, Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, more commonly known as Ernesto "Che" Guevara.
Che Guevara (1928 - 1967) was an Argentinean medical student who became a leading figure of the Cuban Revolution to overthrow the right-wing dictator, Fulgencio Batista. Often known simply as “Che”, he was a revolutionary who joined Fidel Castro’s Marxist 26th July Movement which eventually culminated in Castro replacing Batista as Cuba’s leader.
The Che Guevara Monument is a complex comprised of several monuments to Che, including an 82-foot statue of the man himself and his mausoleum. Che was executed on 9 October 1967 in Bolivia following his attempt to overthrow dictator, René Barrientos Ortuño, which was thwarted by the CIA and Bolivian forces.
At first, the location of his body was kept a secret, but it was later found and, together with the remains of the other revolutionaries who died in the Bolivia operation, was moved to Cuba. Santa Clara was chosen as the site for the Che Guevara Monument as it was the site of a major victory for the revolutionary, leading to it often being called the “City of Che”.
The Che Guevara Monument also includes a museum about the life of Che.
One of the most enjoyable Cold War sites, the Titan Missile Museum is a former ICBM missile site that now offers tours to the public. It contains a genuine Titan II missile in its original silo.
The Titan Missile Museum is a cold-war underground missile silo turned public museum which still contains an actual Titan II missile.
Once a functioning Titan II base, the Titan Missile Museum allows visitors to explore the realities of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launch site. The complex is made up of an eight-level missile silo and a three-level launch center.
During the Cold War, both the US and the USSR built up an armoury of ICBMs and these high-security underground launch sites became one of the most memorable symbols of the conflict. There were 54 Titan II missile sites in the US with the last site being deactivated in 1987.
Officially opened in 1963, the Titan Missile Museum complex was initially known as Titan II ICBM Site 571-7.
Today visitors to the Titan Missile Museum can choose from a number of tour options with activities including a visit to the control center, taking part in a simulated launch and exploring the missile silo itself.
A number of additional tour options are available, usually on specific dates. The 'Beyond the Blastdoor' tour, on the first and third Saturday each month, offers access to normally restricted areas. 'Tuesdays at Titan' is a special tour that takes place on Tuesdays at 2pm where the tour guide is a member of the missile crew. An extended five hour 'Top to Bottom' tour takes you through every level of the facility while the 'Moonlight Madness' tour is a night time tour with special activities for children. Check the official Titan Missile Museum website for tour dates and prices.