I was lucky enough to visit this site while I was in China over the Summer. It’s located in Qingdao, on the east coast. This large, urban city used to be a German colony at the end of the 19th century. During their stay here the Germans were looking for ways to defend this crucial port city against attacks form the British Pacific fleet… they built a range of harbour walls and coastal defences, but their most extravagant plan was to transform a mountain into a weapon!
Mount Fushan stands directly overlooking Qingdao, and during my stay there I heard rumours about tunnels dug high up in the mountain peaks. I couldn’t find out much about them though, so one day two of us decided to climb up and have a look for ourselves! Typically, we managed to pick the day when a fierce typhoon came rolling in off the Yellow Sea…
Anyway, we were just approaching ‘Dragonback Ridge’ when we spotted the first turret – a cheeky little lookout post, poking out of the side of the mountain. There was no visible way in, so we had to scramble around the peak for a while searching. We eventually found a stone archway set on the inland side of the mountain, got our torches out, and headed into the darkness.
Most of the tunnels inside were lined with natural rock, which looked as though it had all been blasted out with explosives. Some sections were reinforced with concrete or metal, and we found numerous chambers and caverns sprouting off on either side of the main passage. Some of these were just rocky caves, while others had thick metal doors, and enough space inside to have served as storerooms, ammo dumps or even dormitories.
After a good look around inside this particular tunnel, we followed a steep flight of steps that took as much deeper under the ground… before coming out on a different part of the mountainside. It was a bit of a trek from here to the next tunnel, but luckily the weather was clearing up by now.
A little while later we found an abandoned sentry hut – just a basic concrete building set in the saddle between two peaks, and overlooking the city on one side, the Yellow Sea on the other. Following the path down from here, we came across a level plateau a little further down the mountain – but still high above the city skyline. Another stone archway set into the rock here led to an ascending staircase. We followed it into one of the mountain peaks, where it took us to a series of look-out points.
Each one of these firing positions was reached through a series of heavy concrete blast doors. One of them was partially closed as we approached, and it took all my strength to budge it open enough to squeeze through. With all of them closed, the main complex would have been safe against projectiles or grenades dropped through the firing slot.
The view from here was incredible – the three turrets between them covered nearly 360 degrees, with views over the sea, the port, the beaches and the city itself.
Heading back outside, we found the entrance to another tunnel network nearby. We nearly missed this third bunker at first, and it turned out to be the largest of them all!
Another concrete tunnel led from the mountain path, down under the ground at a 45-degree angle. The vaulted chamber at the bottom was empty, with one single beam of light falling in from a hole above. It didn’t seem to lead anywhere… until we spotted a small reinforced concrete hatch hiding in the shadows.
Squeezing through this tiny entrance, we came into another long rock tunnel. This time though, there were no turrets or watchtowers. Instead, this third network was much more heavily secured, with a series of three bulkhead doors at each entrance. Inside we found dozens of rooms and chambers, as well as the remains of brick ovens, metal air vents and even electrical light fittings!
Right in the very heart of the mountain, we found a large, U-shaped room – metal-walled and with heavy, secure doors (as well as more electrical fittings that we had seen anywhere else), this seemed to be the command centre.
I have done a lot of research on these tunnels since my visit. It seems that when the Germans left Qingdao (after the 1914 Siege of Tsingtao) the Japanese took control of the city, and rumour has it that they made considerable new extensions to the bunkers left behind. The tunnels were used by the Chinese during WWII (and later during Mao’s Cultural Revolution) as an ammunitions dump… or if you believe the stories, as a training facility for special forces.
Anyway, I’ve tried to keep this report from getting too long – but if you want to read more about the Fushan tunnels, then check out the full write-up on my blog, here: http://www.thebohemianblog.com/2012/12/urban-exploration-hollow-mountain-china.html