During its Communist regime (and for almost a decade after its fall) Romania has maintained a pretty decent-sized army consisting of a large number of contractual officers and large masses of conscripts. It had an air force, a navy, infantry, and tankers, among others, stationed at bases all across the country. In 2007, though, ahead of the country’s adherence to the European Union, conscription was abolished, leading to the reduction of Romania’s military personnel to a fraction of its previous size. This meant that the vast majority of its military bases were decommissioned, joining the ranks of the many abandoned places in Europe. One of them, a former tanker base abandoned more than a decade ago, is just a couple of miles outside Oradea, a small town in the Western part of the country.
There is not much to know about the former tanker base near Oradea – it may have been fallen a victim to the negligence of the personnel or the information was simply not transposed in a digital format. One thing is for sure: the complex is as rundown as it can be. Some of the buildings, especially those that were used as offices and storage, are still in a decent condition but the lack of maintenance shows wherever you look – the roads have been covered in vegetation, the buildings are crumbling, and everything is full of debris wherever you look. The 58,7-hectare (145-acre) area, complete with its roads, buildings, drainage systems, and such, has declined from a well-maintained military base into a wasteland.
Some of the buildings of the base are still in a relatively good condition – these buildings are often inhabited by families of homeless people. Many other buildings, though, especially the barracks that used to serve as a home to conscripts, are completely uninhabited, probably because at times, they can be a bit dangerous. They are still filled with clothes, boots, and various other items left behind when the building was abandoned. Everything that could be stolen and sold was stolen and sold – the buildings are left stripped of anything useful, even their windows and doors.
This makes the complex perfect for the growing airsoft community in Oradea. There are a few groups serious about this activity, and they often visit some of the buildings still relatively intact in the complex for massive showdowns. The guns are not silent in this military base, even though the bullets fired are all made of plastic. Not long ago, the group wanted to organize a S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-themed LARP weekend at the base but they didn’t get the necessary permits, so it was abandoned.
The former tanker base next to Oradea will not be abandoned for long. The authorities of the city have taken over the real estate and are in the process of turning it into an industrial park. Soon, the remains of the military base will be torn down and the area will be flattened to make space for the businesses willing to build factories or warehouses in the area.
Location: Oradea, Romania