The dark underbelly of Hipstertown, Tallinn: Kalamaja’s abandoned village

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.

Tallinn Abandoned Railway 00

Tallinn Abandoned Railway 01

Tallinn Abandoned Railway 03

Tallinn Abandoned Railway 02

Tallinn Abandoned Railway

Tallinn Abandoned Ground 05

Tallinn Abandoned Ground 02

Tallinn Abandoned Ground 03

Tallinn Abandoned Ground 04

Tallinn Abandoned Church 01

Tallinn Abandoned Church 02

Tallinn Abandoned Bunker 01

Tallinn Abandoned Bunker 02

Tallinn Abandoned Bunker 03

Tallinn Abandoned Bunker 04

Tallinn Abandoned Bunker 05

Tallinn Abandoned Bunker 06

Tallinn Abandoned Bunker 07

Tallinn Abandoned Building 01

Tallinn Abandoned Building 02

Tallinn Abandoned Building 03

Tallinn Abandoned Building 04

Tallinn Abandoned Building 05

Tallinn Abandoned Building 06

Tallinn Abandoned Building 07

Tallinn Abandoned Building 08

Tallinn Abandoned Building 09

Tallinn Abandoned Building 10

Tallinn Abandoned Building 11

Tallinn Abandoned Building 12

Tallinn Abandoned Building 13

Tallinn Abandoned Building 14

Tallinn Abandoned Building 15

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8 comments

  1. I could not rest this post because, as you probably know, I was in Kalamaja (and Kopli) recently. Your photos capture perfectly what the areas are like just a short way from where everything is being made fashionable and civilised! You are attracted by places which also attract me.
    Excellent post. I will be back to enjoy more! Phil.

    1. Thank you Phil! I was happy to stumble upon your blog; it truly seems we share an interest or two. I have a couple more Tallinn/Kuressaare posts coming up, but after that it’s Finland again for a little while. Happy travels, looking forward to your future posts! Noora.

  2. Wow!! those pictures are really nice!! I am an exchange student in tallinn this year and i was looking for nice places for taking photos 🙂 this is just awesome *-*

    1. Hi Lea, and thank you! So jealous that you get to spend a year in Tallinn! I think you’ll find many fantastic photo opportunities in Kalamaja and beyond – maybe try hooking up with local urban explorers who can show you around?

      1. Yes i’ll try to find some 🙂 btw this is my blog: http://www.kuldkaala.auslandsblog.de i try to write in eglish and i already wrote quite much. that’s the place where i’m propably going to post some pictures in the next time 🙂

      2. Bookmarking! Ich verstehe auch Deutsch. 🙂

      3. na dann ist ja gut 😛

  3. We are a bit late to the party but are heading to the Baltic States in early May for three weeks or so and will go check this out. I wonder if it is still there or whether it has been renovated/cleaned up and added to the list of 20 most hipster neighbourhoods. I shall grow a long beard and slick my hair back, just in case 🙂

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