The door opens. A guard peeks around the corner and looks suspicious at me. I say: “Uhh.. hello.. I talked to Peter.. he told me I could get in?” The guard looks behind me. A group of tourists just walked to the main entrance of the former KGB Patarei Prison of Tallinn and they see me standing at the back door. Quickly, the guard opens the door and lets me in. He yells at the tourists: “Go away! We are closed!”. And with a bang, he closes the door. The guard puts his hand up. As agreed with Peter, I give him 5 euros. He then opens a big rusty iron gate and tells me to go into the prison. It all happened so fast, but I feel super excited. In this blog post, I will tell you more about my urban exploring adventure in the abandoned Patarei Prison.
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From a Canceled tour to visiting the Abandoned Patarei Prison alone
The Patarei prison is an abandoned sea fortress and Soviet prison turned into a museum. During my visit to Tallinn (2015), it was only possible to visit the prison with a tour. So I booked a tour. After arriving at the tour meeting point on time, the guide told me that I was the only participant. He then refused to give the tour to only one person and went home. You can imagine how upset I was. That evening I wrote an angry email to the tour company about the situation. Luckily, they responded quickly and offered a solution: the next day I could visit the Patarei prison by myself without a guide. The only thing I had to do is to give the guard 5 euros and he would let me in.
Urban exploring in patarei prison: what can you see?
The Patarei prison closed not that long ago. Until 2004 it functioned as a prison. After that it seems like the prison was abruptly abandoned. Everything was left behind. I still saw mugs, papers, chairs and pillows on the bed. The most impressive room was the operation room. It looked like a scene of a creepy horror movie. It gave me a cold chill knowing all the suffering that took place in this room. What did change in the prison were the walls: they were painted with art and graffiti. Some works were good and related to the horror that took place here, others were just shameless. For instance, I saw several messages about Obama and Trump. This just shows a lack of respect for a tragic place like this.
A few important notes on urban exploring
This blog post describes my experience. I do not encourage people to bribe guards or to go urban exploring by yourself. If you can join an urbex group tour, I encourage you to sign up. This will allow you to learn so much more with a professional guide. As I explored the prison on my own, I had no one to give me any sort of explanation about the rooms. It was something I definitely missed. Also, wear proper shoes and long pants! Don’t go urban exploring on flipflops, because you might hurt yourself.
Patarei Prison changes
Please note that I wrote this blog post in 2015. Things have changed. Recently I read that the Patarei prison has opened a proper exposition on its history, in Estonian and English. Entrance fee is 8 EUR, only opened from May to September. There are also guided tours available. It looks like the prison has been turned into a real museum, so it might not be as much urban exploring as it was before.
Read more information about prices and tours on the official website of Patarei.
Would you go urban exploring in the abandoned Patarei prison? Have you been to Tallinn?