Bunker Archaeology: Preserving and restoring a WW2 fortification complex

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos submitted by Stathis Kouroupis and used by permission

The Naval Fortress at Gouves is located in a strategic point overlooking the seaways to the North and South
The Naval Fortress at Gouves is located in a strategic point overlooking the seaways to the North and South

The northern part of Euboea in Greece is full of History.

In Artemision a naval engagement between the Greeks and the barbarians, which spanned over three days during the second Persian invasion of Greece, took place simultaneously with the more famous land battle at Thermopylae, in August or September 480 BC.

A 178 mm naval gun emplacement, after decades of neglect
A 178 mm naval gun emplacement, after decades of neglect

The naval battles were fought off the coast of Euboea between an alliance of Greek city-states, including Sparta, Athens, Corinth and others, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I.

The Persian navy was caught in a gale off the coast of Magnesia and lost around a third of their 1200 ships.

Entrance to one of the bunkers is covered by debris and undergrowth
Entrance to one of the bunkers is covered by debris and undergrowth

After arriving at Artemision, the Persians sent a detachment of 200 ships around the coast of Euboea in an attempt to trap the Greeks, but these were caught in another storm and shipwrecked.

Fast forward to the late 1930s, as the dark clouds of war were again gathering over Europe.

An artillery observation post
An artillery observation post and machine gun nest

Greece decided to construct a series of fortified positions in roughly the same area, were the Greeks fought against the Persians 2,500 years ago, in what was designated the Naval Defense Area 4.

The fortress at Gouves belonged to the Naval Defense Area 4 of the prefecture of Evia, based in Chalkida, under the name “Fortress of Northern Euboikos”.

The Fortress consists of several concrete constructions covering a wide area in this idyllic part of Evia
The Fortress consists of several concrete constructions covering a wide area in this idyllic part of Evia

A concrete complex included artillery and anti-aircraft guns, in order to protect the entrance of the Euboikos Gulf and control the the Pagasitic Gulf in the north.

Men at work! Indigenous persons are working hard to uncover the past
Men at work! Indigenous persons are working hard to uncover the past

Recently, the Gouves Cultural Association “Gefyra” (meaning “Bridge” in Greek), with the personal work of the inhabitants, cleaned the Naval Fortress.

Bunker entrances are seeing the light, after decades
Bunker entrances are seeing the light, after decades

Their purpose is to make it accessible to all and to offer a glimpse of the past to the visitors of the area, with the support of the local Municipality of Istiea-Edipsos.

The complexity and quality of the concrete works, which are unearthed thanks to the efforts of the locals are impressive
The complexity and quality of the concrete works, which are unearthed thanks to the efforts of the locals, are impressive.

www.ww2wrecks.com has reached out to Mr. Stathis Kouroupis to find out more on this exciting project and discuss about the next steps. 

A group of locals are proudly standing next to one of the bunkers, after their hard work
A group of locals are proudly standing next to one of the bunkers, after their hard work

Every time I visit the fortress I discover something new. It is impressive to see how well constructed these fortifications are, withstanding the elements of nature for so long!

The local Municipality offered heavy machinery to assist the project
The local Municipality offered heavy machinery to assist the project

The area seduces you with its hidden history.

We will continue cleaning up the area, but we have to convince the landowners, as the area was not expropriated by the State, that they will not lose their property.

Job completed! The bunker complex and gun emplacement are now fully visible, for the first time in decades!
Job completed! The bunker complex and gun emplacement are now fully visible, for the first time in decades!

There are 3 concrete 178 mm gun emplacements and we have already fully uncovered the first one and we still have to work on the other two, as the landowners are still not allowing us to proceed. 

The positions of the three 178 mm naval gun emplacements
The positions of the three 178 mm naval gun emplacements

We are still just at the beginning, as the fortified complex is large and has underground constructions, which still remain hidden in the undergrowth or covered in debris.

An inside view of one of the bunkers and ammo storage dumps. Much work still needs to be done, but the locals are fully committed to completing their project
An inside view of one of the bunkers and ammo storage dumps. Much work still needs to be done, but the locals are fully committed to completing their project

We want to carefully map the whole area and put signs to explain the use and construction method of each concrete construction. 

One of the bunker storage areas
One of the bunker storage areas

We believe that all the monuments of the history of the Second World War must be preserved and properly displayed.

The view to the sea is majestic. The 178 mm naval gun emplacements were controlling the seaways.
The view to the sea is majestic. The 178 mm naval gun emplacements were controlling the seaways.

Everything is done with the support and help of our Municipality.

Hard work, dedication and love for their village are the elements of a successful recipe
Hard work, dedication and love for their village are the elements of a successful recipe

We want our area to become a historical attraction, there are many visitors coming from Greece as well as all over Europe, as it is a pristine destination, with crystal clear waters and wonderful mountains nearby, truly a hidden Paradise off the beaten track for the masses.

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