Saturday, 11 June 2016

Ukraine's stunning 'Tunnel of Love' has an intriguing Cold War history

Ukraine's stunning 'Tunnel of Love' has an intriguing Cold War history

In the centuries-old city of Klevan, Ukraine, a railroad track cuts through the trees shaping a tunnel, appropriately named the Tunnel of Love by locals. It's straight out of a fairy tale.
Over the years, the tunnel has attracted tourists from all over the world to take a stroll. Many have popped the question here, and Instagram is flooded with photos to prove it.
This lover's lane traces its origins back to the Cold War. On a recent visit to Ukraine, photographer Amos Chapple with Radio Free Europe spoke with the locals and learned of the tunnel's history as a guise for a nearby military base.
Let's take a look inside.

-The Tunnel of Love stretches about four miles through an avenue of trees in Klevan, Ukraine.

-There are over 11,000 posts on Instagram containing #tunneloflove, and thousands more geo-tagged in Klevan, Ukraine.

-The train track was constructed at the turn of the 19th century to supply a still-prospering plywood factory at the far end of the track.

-Every day, train conductors transport containers along the famous route, which inadvertently helps it maintain its shape.

-"For the first few hundred meters the railway line looks much like any other, but soon the trees close in," Chapple writes.

-The track also mysteriously splits, with the left track leading to an off-limits area. Chapple learned the explanation from a local reporter.

-During the height of the Cold War, a time wrought with paranoia and secrecy, Soviet forces planted trees alongside the tracks to hide the transport of equipment to a nearby military base.

-Chapple didn't venture down the path since he didn't expect to be welcome on an active Ukrainian military base.

-Instead, he and the train driver kept their eyes peeled for tourists on the tracks.

-One young visitor told him the Tunnel Love is a source of pride for her country. "It's something beautiful, and it's ours," she said.