Are you a fan of old, abandoned buildings? Do you want to feel the atmosphere of a Soviet Union prison? If yes, then Patarei Sea Fortress in Kalamaja District of Tallinn is definitely the place for you!
The best way to experience this fascinating (and somewhat scary) place is by a guided tour, where knowledgeable guides make sure you really get an insight into everyday struggle of inmates incarcerated here throughout several different political regimes.
Although originally build as a sea fortress in 1840 by Russian Emperor Nicholas I, Patarei never actually served as a fortress, but rather as military barracks. But due to shortage of prisons and excess of political prisoners after the Soviet Revolution, Patarei became fully functional prison in 1920. Today, the building looks like it was shut down a long time ago, but in reality the last prisoner left the institution in 2005.
Patarei prison is of great importance to the Estonian nation, as it symbolizes their resistance under the Soviet and Nazi regimes. While exploring the hallways, prison cells, medical facilities, execution room and other corners of the premises, take the time to admire how nature took over the outside cells. Tip: don’t miss the amazing mural of Narva Castle made by a Russian prisoner in one of the cells.
As said before, the best way to visit Patarei is with a guided tour. Tours are available in Estonian, Russian, and English language and cost 8€ (6€ for students). You’ll be fascinated by dedicated guides who know intimate stories about almost every single soul that has spent at least a day in the prison (no joke!). We recommend booking the tour online and highly advise you do not stray from the group – you don’t want to be locked in overnight!
As you’ll probably want to take your mind to a happier place after this amazing, yet deeply moving tour, grab a drink and a deckchair at the beach bar in front of the prison and enjoy a beautiful sunset (and your freedom).