Tallinn does not only have a beautiful medieval city center, but this city also has an interesting alternative side. I’m talking about the old Soviet heritage. Run-down factories, an abandoned sports venue, and a notorious prison. Once these places were full of life, but now it’s left behind and abandoned – a perfect place for urbex lovers. Still, not everything is run-down, some buildings have been renovated and are now very hipster. In this blog post, I’ll show you 5 cool alternative places in Tallinn that are near the historical city center.
1. Patarei prison: creepy & cool
One of the most impressive places in Tallinn is the Patarei building. The tsars built this place as a sea fortress, but in Soviet times it was used as a prison. Prisoners were not only locked up here, they were also questioned by the KGB and executed on the orders of the authorities. The medical staff also had a free pass to experiment with the prisoners in any way they wanted. Visiting this former Soviet prison was incredibly impressive and creepy at the same time. Especially because I was all alone during my time there, no tour or any guidance. Address:Kalaranna 2.
2. Linnahall: former Olympic glory
Near the Patarei sea prison, there is also a second structure worth checking out: the Linnahall. This is the former Olympic venue that was used for the Summer Olympics of the 1980s. The Soviet Union organized the Olympic games that year and they were looking for a sea city. Tallinn, with its sea coast, was the perfect place. Within a few months, a gigantic stone arcade was built that offered seating area to 8000 visitors. Sadly for the Soviets, many participating countries decided to boycott the Olympics. After 1980, the Linnahall was abandoned and remained that way up until this day. There are rumors that the Estonian government wants to demolish the building. So you might want to visit it before it’s gone. Address: Mere puiestee 20.
3. Telliskivi, the creative side of the city
Industrial turns trendy, that is Telliskivi. This former power plant is the place in Tallinn for everything that is innovative, new, and progressive. It has several design stores, a bike shop, the culinary theater ‘Foody Allen’ and many pop-up stores. When I visited this place it was a bit deserted (it was winter though), but I can imagine that in summer this place must be filled with food trucks, markets and people. It reminded me a bit of the LX factory in Lisbon, also a cool place just outside the touristy city centre. Address: Telliskivi 60a. Website: www.telliskivi.eu/en.
4. Modern industrial in the Rotermann Quarter
Just like Telliskivi, the Rotermann Quarter is also a former factory complex, but this time it has a modern twist. The area is named after mister Rotermann that ran a flour and grain milling here in the 19th century. Eventually, the place went out of business and the factories were closed. For years the place was abandoned until a group of investors saw the potential of this area and turned it into a shopping center with apartments and restaurants. During the construction, the architects used the old walls and mixed it with new elements. And I must say, the result is pretty great. Address: Rotermanni tn 8.
5. The colorful houses of Kalamaja
But wait, there’s more! Head over to Kalamaja, a unique little neighbourhood with colorful wooden houses. They were built for the workers that helped to build a railroad between Tallinn and Saint Petersburg in the 19th century. This resulted in a whole bunch of new Tallinn inhabitants that lived in these quickly constructed wooden houses. I loved walking around Kalamaja and admiring all the colors!
And there you have it: a list of cool alternative places in Tallinn. Do you also love to explore alternative sights?