First came a cultural obsession with vampires, then a brief crush on werewolves; and now, we’re deep within the age of zombies. Popular TV shows, video games, and movies, such as The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later, Resident Evil, and World War Z, just to name a few, has reinvigorated our love-affair with reanimated corpses by continually reinventing the zombie formula and offering a fictional glimpse into the harsh possibilities of post-apocalyptic survival.
This infatuation with global annihilation goes far beyond our televisions and movie screens however. Even the U.S. government has made preparations for defending against hordes of undead. It begs the question, how would you survive in the event of zombie apocalypse? Channel your inner Rick Grimes and join us on our tour of seven real-life locations that will give you the greatest chance of survival against the dangers of a civilization gone awry.
Mont Saint-Michel (Normandy, France) – Tidal Island
Located on an island just a half mile off the northwestern coast of France, Mont-Saint Michel is not your typical zombie hideout. In fact, the monastery turned prison happens to be one of the country’s most recognizable landmarks and more importantly, the perfect place to hunker down during a zombie apocalypse. Shielded by huge stone walls and a naturally rocky coastline, Mont Saint Michel is easily defensible for the long haul. A huge five-sided tower stands atop the craggy land mass offering 360 degree sight lines up and down the coast. And you haven’t even heard the best part; Mont Saint-Michel is protected by monstrous tidal waves. When the tide is low, the surrounding sand flats are not only visible, but walkable, suitable for daytime scavenging. When the tide comes in at night, any walkers that have gathered outside will be washed away, no cleanup necessary.
Only around fifty people actually live on the island, so there is plenty of room for a growing community and ample scavenging opportunities both within and beyond the walls. For the post-apocalyptic connoisseur, occasional flooding has created salt marsh meadows within the walls which is not only ideal for grazing sheep, it is also said to enhance the flavor of the meat and is considered a rare delicacy around these parts. Mont Saint-Michel has been a strategic fortification since ancient times and for good reason. If you’re in the neighborhood when the world goes to hell, head for the tower by the bay.
Cheyenne Mountain Complex (Colorado, United States) – Underground Vault
Constructed at the height of the Cold War, this military installation is just as suitable to withstanding a multimegaton nuclear detonation as it is to surviving an onslaught of undead. Located southwest of Colorado Springs, the Cheyenne Mountain Complex is the ultimate safe haven in just about any apocalypse scenario. Built within a mountain under 2000 feet of granite, the structures within the underground vault are not only safe from a nuclear bomb, but also the subsequent fallout thanks to special filters designed to capture air borne chemicals, as well as biological, radiological, and nuclear contaminants. A network of twenty-five ton blast doors span the earthquake and EMP-proof bunker which boasts its own power plant, cooling system, fuel reservoir and water supply.
Boasting top-of-the-line amenities including a medical facility, cafeteria, commercial stores, and living centers, you’ll practically forget that civilization is on the brink of collapse. With security like this, it’s no wonder the Cheyenne Mountain Complex was chosen as the home of the evil artificial intelligence Skynet in the Terminator series and was considered a key complex in the Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel video game. Bring it on biters.
Ariau Towers(Manaus, Brazil) –Treetop Refuge
If your particular zombies are more like the rotting slowpokes from Night of the Living Dead rather than the climbing variety found in World War Z, the Ariau Towers luxury hotel is a solid choice for your end-of-days homestead. Situated 35 miles deep into the Amazon rainforest, the hotel’s isolated location accounts for only half of its high survivability rating; the other heaping portion is derived from its unique elevated design. Ariau Towers is more like an epic treehouse than your average inn, featuring seven towers and nearly 300 rooms hovering 30-60 feet above the rainforest floor. Five miles of aerial catwalks connect the entire complex together to form some of the best vantage points you’ll come across in the area, beyond shimmying your way up a giant Kapok Tree.
Close proximity to the treetops and the Rio Negro tributary offer great opportunities for hunting, fishing, and foraging, while the canopy leaves could be used as a water collection source. And hey, who would complain about state-of-the-art amenities in a catastrophe? Meet the end of the world in style at the Amazon’s one and only, Ariau Towers.
Tristan da Cunha (South Atlantic Island Chain) – Remote Archipelago
What’s the best way to survive a zombie apocalypse? Simple, stay far far away from the infected. This next location takes the concept of avoidance to a whole ‘nother level. Considered to be the world’s most remotely inhabited archipelago, this South Atlantic island chain is home to just 300 inhabitants spread across several isles. Unless roamers learn to swim, that’s just about as zombie-free as you can get. Actually getting to Tristan da Cunha is the tricky part since it’s only accessible by boat, but if you’re able to make the voyage, you and your squad will be in a survivalist’s paradise.
A wet oceanic climate paired with pleasant temperatures and plenty of rainfall is the perfect recipe for abundant wildlife, both flora and fauna. The area also happens to be an excellent fishing locale with crawfish and rock lobsters serving as primary (and delicious) staples. Choosing Tristan da Cunha as an apocalypse refuge is certainly not for the faint of heart – necessitating survival skills and favoring remoteness over defensibility – yet this small islet has the potential to support a thriving community safe from zombie hordes and marauding bandits. I’d rather play Man vs. Wild than Man vs. Zombie any day.
Rumelihisarı (Istanbul, Turkey) – Ancient Castle
If rebuilding society after a deadhead invasion is your modus operandi, look no further than the Rumelian Castle. The modern day open-air museum offers a unique blend of security and sustainability, prerequisites for any ambitious survivor base. Three main citadels and thirteen small watch towers dot the perimeter of the fortification, ideal as sniper roosts and patrol points. If properly manned, spotting potential enemies will be a breeze. Speaking of bad guys, there’s no way anyone dead or alive is getting through those walls which range from 18 feet to 23 feet thick, and many stories tall. Rumelihisarı also has two secret gates which could serve as backup escape routes in case of emergency.
Although the defenses are top notch, the sheer size of the castle could be problematic. For one, guarding a base of this size is a massive undertaking and probably unwise without the appropriate manpower. In addition, its position on a hill affords more visibility to the castle’s interior from outside of the walls, making it possible for raiders to see your community especially at long distances. While its location next to the Bosphorus Strait is promising as a source of food and resources, Rumelihisarı would be best suited to large groups of veteran survivors who know a thing or two about proactive defensive measures.
ADX Florence (Colorado, United States) – Supermax Prison
One thing I’ve learned from watching AMC’s The Walking Dead, (besides how to masterfully slice, dice, stab, and decapitate zombies) is that despite grim appeal, a prison complex has the potential to be a safe and sustainable post-apocalyptic garrison. Considering the overall space, inherent security measures, and probable stockpile of basic necessities such as food and water, your average prison could very well become a haven for survivors and a refuge from walking corpses. But this article is certainly not about “average” safe houses, we want the absolute best. Without further ado, I introduce ADX Florence or Supermax.
Also referred to as the Alcatraz of the Rockies, this federal prison is far more security-intensive than any run-of-the-mill penitentiary. 490 solitary confinement cells reside within a 37 acre complex equipped with motion detectors, cameras, remote-controlled steel doors, detection laser beams, pressure pads, attack dogs and 12-foot tall razor wire fences. There’s no telling whether the security measures would still be functional in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse but the basic structural advantages, sturdy fences, and open yard for agriculture, should be satisfactory for keeping the deceased out and the living safe inside. The main thing you’d need to worry about is who might still be within the prison when you arrive.
Murud-Janjira (Maharashtra, India) – Unconquered Marine Fortress
With the defensive advantages of a fortress and the natural inaccessibility of an island, Murud-Janjira is an excellent place to set up shop if eating each other becomes the new normal. The marine fortress which resides just off the coast of India, is famous for its colorful history of battles and victories – even fending off attacks from the English, Dutch, and Portuguese. Against all odds, Murud-Janjira still remains undefeated, a promising track record coming into the zombie apocalypse.
In terms of features, Murud-Janjira includes the assets that you’d expect from an ancient fortress: giant stone walls, over a dozen cannons, a main gate and a postern gate as an escape route. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This invincible island is actually equipped with its own natural fresh water lakes, two of them in fact. The 60-foot deep basins are still intact to this day, solving one of survival’s greatest opponents, access to fresh drinking water. As a security addition, the main entrance was specially designed to only be visible at close ranges, not that zombies have any chance of making it across the Arabian Sea – they’re called walkers not swimmers after all. With a bit of reconstruction, Murud-Janjira is a prime contender as your go-to locale during a global zombie infestation.
That concludes our tour of the most unique, recognizable and surprisingly survivable global landmarks that the world has to offer. If you’re on vacation when society crumbles, make your way to the closest beacon of safety and hunker down for the long haul. Better yet, prior to the downfall of mankind, start working on your aim with a crossbow. The undead won’t know what hit ‘em.
Where would you go in the event of a zombie apocalypse? Let us know your action plan in the comments below.