Patarei vankilan näyttely
Tallinn in English

Visit in Patarei prison is a time travel to an era you wish didn’t exist

We were lucky on our latest trip to Tallinn: I was in town at the same time as the gates of the historic Patarei prison opened again to the public. It has been a few years since the last time. My previous visit in Patarei was so impressive that I’ve been waiting for the next opportunity go get in again. That is now!

Various rumors have been circulating about the future of Patarei. Some visions have been a hotel inside its walls, other ones apartments or a conference center. Recently, however, it has become clear that Patarei’s architecturally majestic but historically horrifying spaces would be hosting exhibitions that spread its dark past to the eyes of its visitors.

Patarein uljaat ulkoseinät
Patarei vankila
Tiiliseinän maalausta Patareissa
Patarei vankila
Piikkilankaa Patarein muureilla
Patarein vanha portti

Patarei prison: a visit full of mixed feelings

A visit to the prison was an emotional roller coaster. How to deal with the fact that this place is both beautiful and creepy.

The delightful thing about the building is its magnificent architecture, but also the weathering. Time has dented the surfaces to resemble a painter’s palette of oil colors or an abstract painting.

Indoors, there is an endless variety of interesting textures: beautiful original clinker floors, long corridors covered with different colored wall tiles, decayed walls covered by the mosaic of numerous overlapping paint layers.

Patarei-vankilan ulkoilualue
Patarei-vankilan selli
Patarein vankilan pihaa
Patarei on koskettava näyttely vanhassa vankilassa
Näyttely Patarein vankilassa Kalasadamassa Tallinnassa
patarei vankilan uusi näyttely
Patarei vankila
Patarein vankilan näyttely
Patarein selli
Patarein vankilan näyttely

Indoors, there is an endless variety of interesting textures: beautiful original clinker floors, long corridors covered with different colored wall tiles, decayed walls covered by the mosaic of numerous overlapping paint layers.

The controversy is that, while admiring the aesthetics of spaces, you know they have witnessed more horrible violations of human rights than one who lived in a free country can even imagine. Patarei served as a notorious punishment for the entire occupation period. 

We all have an idea of that dark era. Patarei’s interesting – and sometimes even artistic – exhibition builds a great overall picture with touching stories of people stuck in the wheels of the grim system. Sadness, anger, wordlessness… be prepared for a wide range of emotions in Patarei.

Silmät Patarein sellin seinällä
Patarei-vankilan ulkoilualue
Patarein vankilan näyttely
Näyttely Patarein vankilassa Kalasadamassa Tallinnassa
Patarein vankila
Valokuvanäyttely Patareissa
Valokuvanäyttely Patareissa
Vankila Tallinnassa
Hieno valoinstallaatio Tallinnan kommunismi-näyttelyssä
Patarein vankilan näyttely
Patarei ja sen ulkoilusellit
Vihreää kevättä ja vankilan muuria
Stalin ja Marxx Patarein vankilassa
Näyttely Patarein vankilassa Kalasadamassa Tallinnassa

This is what the newly opened museum is trying to illuminate. Its central idea is to share both communist and nationalist socialist ideology, and about the crimes committed by its perpetrators around the world. From one hall to another, you follow the stories of the victims of communism and nazism and Patarei prison’s eventful history, from construction to naval fortress in the 19th century.

The Patarei complex was built in 1840 as part of the fortifications of Peter the Great’s Naval Fortress for the tsarist Russian state. The Patarei complex is one of the largest completely preserved classical style military structures in Europe. 

Näyttely Patarein vankilassa Kalasadamassa Tallinnassa
Hieno valoinstallaatio Tallinnan kommunismi-näyttelyssä
Silmät Patarein sellin seinällä
Patarei vankila
Patarei ja sen hienot yksityiskohdat
Lenin hiekassa
Patarein selli

How do you find Patarei prison and how do you get in there?

The entrance to the prison and exhibitions is at the side closest to the city. When you leave Kalasadama towards the Lennusadam Museum, you will see this large building on your right between the beach and the road. On the patarei prison’s website you will find a lot of information for the visit, but also some history and the background of the exhibition. 

The entrance fee was not more than five euros, which I think is a reasonable price for such a comprehensive and touching exhibition. 

If you are interested in the dark history of the occupation period, I highly recommend the Museum of Freedom Vabamu. I wrote about it a post, which the museum liked so much that they translated it in Estonian and published it on their web site. Here is a lot of pictures of the Vabamu Museum (text unfortunately in Finnish). The memorial of the victims of Communism at Marjamäki is also worth visiting. Here are some pictures of my visit there (again text in my native tongue). 

Patarei vankilan koirien aitaukset

Here is how you plan a perfect trip to Tallinn:

Sooloiluja site is there for one reason, and one reason only: to help you dear reader to get more out of your time in Tallinn. Here’s what you should do right away: 

Patarein vankilan pihaa

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