Warning: This post has a very scary bunker in it!
After spending Easter in Kuressaare, we headed back to Tallinn for one more night of youthful fun before returning home. The plan was to check out the up-and-coming district of Kalamaja and its infamous Patarei sea fortress-prison, but arriving there we saw that Patarei hadn’t yet opened for the year. We then ended up doing a longer walk in and around Kalamaja.
Somewhere along the way we found ourselves at the beginning of old train tracks that didn’t look like they’d been used for a while. On one side of the tracks there were dilapidating apartment buildings; on the other an abandoned (and very much off-limits) factory. We figured following the tracks might lead us somewhere interesting − and we were not wrong!
After a few hundred metres or so we came upon a site with a few buildings in various states of decay. There were the ruins of a once-large building; a smaller house that might have served as a church judging by the cross motifs; an altogether three cellar doors leading to some dark places underground; and finally, one large building that actually still resembled a building.
I think it might have been a former residential area, but I’m not certain of that. There just wasn’t anything left in the ruins to base your conclusions on. The whole site lay on a literally grey area on the map between Kalamaja and Kopli where, like in that annoying song, the streets didn’t seem to have any names.
As we were in a bit of a hurry to catch the evening ferry, we only went down one of the three rabbit holes. I instantly thanked myself for having brought my own lighting, because down there it was pitch-black, dead-silent and utterly spooky. The writing on the wall said “death to you”, if my Russian doesn’t fail me. With two rooms, a few built-in storage spaces and a couple of tunnels the complex wasn’t large, but the darkness growing out of the edges of my flashlight’s beam gave it an impression of being unending.
Ultimately, we emerged back into the sunlight unharmed and quickly explored the rest of the area.
Even if abandoned bunkers and other questionable structures are not your thing, I wholeheartedly recommend a good stroll in Kalamaja instead of, or in addition to, the tourist-infested Old Town, should you happen to be visiting Tallinn. The houses are beautiful, the food is cheap and delicious (try Kohvik Sesoon) and the main sights, Patarei and the Seaplane Harbor, are legitimately exciting. I fully expect Kalamaja to make The 20 Most Hipster Neighborhoods by 2024.
In the meanwhile… Enjoy the pictorial tour.