The KGB Museum

Tallinn is very popular with Finns for a day trip. This Fall I went there with a bunch of my old colleagues and visited the KGB museum for the third time.

The museum can be found inside the Viru Hotel. Don’t expect to find a dusty museum with many rooms and artefacts in glass cases. No no. You will go up to the top of the hotel and discover a secret floor which Soviets claimed did not even exist. You will do this with a guide who will tell you many interesting stories – guided tours leave from the hotel lobby and you should book your tour in advance.


The hotel was built in 1972 by a Finnish construction company for the Soviet based travel agency Inturist.  The purpose of the hotel was to house foreign guests visiting Tallinn – and of course to have a place to keep a watchful eye the visitors the whole time they were in the country. A secret KGB radio room was built where Soviet officials spied on guests and staff alike via concealed microphones and cameras. There was even a direct line to the KGB headquarters in Moscow.


When the Soviet Union fell – the officials hastily left the building, leaving things in array. Finnish hotel chain Sokos Hotels bought the hotel a few years later and cleverly left the top floor untouched for twenty years. Now these tours and flashbacks into Estonia’s past are extremely popular.


I am not going to recap the stories I’ve heard, as I hope you will be able to experience them yourself on this very tour. Estonia’s Soviet history is dark and has many tales to tell.


The Viru hotel balcony boasts great views over Tallinn.


It’s a pity that another interesting attraction in Tallinn I wrote about a while back – the Patarei Prison – has apparently been closed down as it turned out to be a safety hazard. It did seem quite dangerous when we visited, so I’m not really that surprised…

Have you visited the KGB museum? If you are going to visit Tallinn from Helsinki, check out my post on the ferries that can take you there.


17 thoughts on “The KGB Museum

  1. The KGB Museum is very interesting, thank you for your post, now I definitely want to revisit! I was also very disappointed when I heard that Patarei Prison was going to be closed down. I found the place only a year ago and visited very briefly as we were in a hurry returning to the boat, I would have loved to revisit to explore the prison more thoroughly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great to hear you enjoyed this museum too! Too bad about Patarei, it won’t be the same if they renovate it but I am quite sure it was a health hazard. At least we managed to see it! 😊


    1. Yes I vaguely remember that too. The department store that is now a modern Kaubamaja was so old fashioned to my eyes. You could not touch the goods unless you asked the lady behind the counter to show them to you!!

      Liked by 1 person

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