The abandoned Patarei Prison, Tallinn

EDIT: Patarei has now been closed to visitors.

Those of you who know me as someone who loves pretty things and tropical destinations might be surprised of my fascination for all things Soviet. What may surprise you further, is that I am also intrigued by urban exploration!

For some time, I have been reading about Tallinn’s Patarei Prison on other people’s blogs. I really couldn’t think of anyone who I know who would want to visit such a desolate place, so I arranged to go there when hubby and I went on a mini-break to the city this Spring.


I booked us on a tour of Patarei through their website. I am a fan of urbex but it’s not something I dare do by myself, so a tour was a safe option. The tour costs eight euros per person and they don’t have a card machine, so you should be prepared to pay by cash.


As we arrived early, we walked a bit around the area. It truly is not very attractive.


However, these kinds of abandoned (?) buildings captivate my imagination. For example – what on earth is that reddish statue in the picture below?


Behind Patarei, you will find an excellent maritime museum called Lennusadam Sea Plane Harbor. It is great for families with children but even adults on their own. Even the building itself is very interesting, as it’s a former seaplane hangar. It was built for Peter the Great’s naval fortress 100 years ago and it was used as such till the Second World War.


Now, if you are going to Patarei, it’s good to be warned beforehand that in winter it can be very, very cold, so you should bundle up. Also, you need to have good sturdy shoes, as there’s all kinds of debris on the ground. This is something to keep in mind in summer, as it won’t be nice to go there in strappy sandals.


A phone with a flashlight or a hand-held flashlight may come handy.


We waited for our guide in front of these doors.


Now let me tell you, this place is eerie.


Welcome! You will see street art all around the prison.


The prison was not only a Soviet prison. It was completed in 1840 to serve as a sea fortress. It was only from 1920 till 2002 that the barracks housed a prison.


The grimmest times were during the Soviet and Nazi occupations when people were detained, tortured, tormented and killed there.


Our super cool guide. This was just before we entered the room where KGB agents executed prisoners.


I must say that I am not entirely sure this “museum” is safe. The building is crumbling to bits, so go at your own risk. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Phones and other electronics in a jumbled mess.


Peeling and mouldy walls. The windows are broken and in winters harsh winds blow through them.


Now this is the most horrifying part of the prison – the infirmary.


Here prisoners were operated on.


It looks like the remnants of an operation are still there.


The infirmary was actually open till 2005, even after the prisoners had been moved elsewhere.


This sight makes my skin crawl.


2000 prisoners was a normal amount but at times almost 5000 prisoners were living in Patarei.


A prison library perhaps?


You can find all kinds of things strewn about – as if the last inhabitants left in a hurry.


This building really is a health hazard, the harsh sea air doesn’t help.


These looks like chairs from a movie theatre, who knows from where.


Beds that were shared by many people. The newer you were the nearer to the toilet you slept.


A forlorn shoe.


Outside is no better than inside. Underneath the greenish guard platform were the cells used for prisoners’ outings.


The now outgrown cells were filled to the brim with prisoners.


The building really is in a sad state. The guide ran ahead at such speed that you had to be quick to take photos and manage to catch him before he started his account on the history seeped in this site.


These pictures are from the guards’ premises. It was totally dark there but with a flash I was able to take a few photos.


Our guide said that in this quarter the guards even had a sauna.


Apparently Patarei is on sale. The problem is that it is renovating the place could cost over 100 million euros.


Walking back to the Old Town, you can see the huge Soviet building Linnahall, which also has been left in ruins. It used to be a concert and sports venue called V. I. Lenin Palace of Culture and Sport, built for the Moscow Summer Olympic sailing games. That’s Linda Line in front of it – the only ferry service from Helsinki I cannot recommend.


Have you been to Patarei? Would you dare venture inside?


29 thoughts on “The abandoned Patarei Prison, Tallinn

  1. Voi Kääk! Nyt minua harmittaa vielä enemmän etten päässyt käymään tuolla. Olisi ollut valokuvaajan taivas! Vaikka mitä yksityiskohtia. Kiitos kun pääsin piipahtamaan sinun kuvien kautta siellä =).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joo sanos muuta, siellä oli todella paljon mielenkiintoista kuvattavaa! Mutta opas hiihti hirveää vauhtia eteenpäin, piti varoa ettei eksy 😱😱


    1. I wouldn’t want to be find myself there alone in the evening!!! Apparently there’s a café there in summer.. not sure if it’s my cup of tea 😛


    1. Some of the structures were already crumbling.. some people ran off and climbed some stairs. The next moment the guide rushed after them – the stairs were not safe at all! 😱 So venture at you own risk 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I would totally go there! Visiting sights like that are a great way to learn about the culture and history of a country. But I feel that it’s the type of tour you have to do with a guide or else you won’t appreciate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s such a huge complex too, that I would be afraid of getting lost. Even now the guide was running ahead, and I was stopping to photograph everything, so at times I got the panicky feeling that I was lost!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, nyt tuli eteeni aivan uusi paikka. En ole koskaan käynyt tuolla, mutta oli kyllä todella mielenkiintoisen tuntuinen. Laitan ehdottomasti must visit listalle. Kiitos vinkistä =D.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kiva kuulla – tuolla Patareissa on kyllä valokuvaamiseen mahdottoman mielenkiintoisia kohteita – suosittelen!! 🙂


  4. Nice blog and great photos. Patarei Prison is a fascinating place, and the lack of organisation makes it a bit different from somewhere like Eastern State Penitentiary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for visiting and commenting 🙂 I am glad I finally managed to visit, who knows how long the building will stay upright…


    1. I can’t recall if the guide said anything about it. The prisoners were relocated, so I would imagine they had time to do it. But maybe all this stuff was so awful it was better left behind…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a place, I have never heard of this. Interesting, why there looks like they have left suddenly and left everything there. Must have been terrible place, I don’t want to know what they did in those doctor’s rooms.
    And amazing to see pictures of these forgotten buildings, not always everything pretty and cute.
    Thank you, Suvi, for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those doctor rooms made me shudder for sure! What those prisoners must’ve had to go through there.. I think it’s for the best we don’t imagine it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is my first time hearing about this place even if it would be quite easy to go for me. So thanks for sharing! 🙂 I’m also fan of urbex so I’m always trying to find new places to visit. Your pictures make it look eerie!

    Liked by 1 person

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