One of Tallinn’s last remaining ‘wooden house’ and antiquated industrial districts has seen somewhat of a trendy revival as of late, akin to what happened in the Soho districts of New York or London, albeit on a smaller scale. The revival, as with most cases in developed cities of the world, happened thanks to inexpensive real estate prices and the historic/industrial surroundings. First, the ‘hippies’, bohemians, artists and students set up shop and residence here. Now it seems that everyone wants a piece of the action and as a result, real estate prices have gone through the roof over the last few years. What was once home to fishermen, sailors, dock-workers, shipbuilders and factory employees now houses boutiques, a fabulous market, high-brow eateries and a few cool nightspots for Tallinn’s hipsters and trendsetters. There are in fact still quite a few industrial complexes and sea-oriented businesses operating in the area due to the proximity of the harbours and rail-lines that still skirt these districts.
Besides being home to some architectural and often derelict delights, Kalamaja has some interesting sights from the fascinating one-time fortress Patarei Prison (F-3, Kalaranna 2), the now world-famous Estonia Piano Factory (F-3, Kungla 41), the 1928 Jugenstil Kalma Sauna (A-1, Vana-Kalamaja 9a) and Kalmistu Park (F-3), formerly home to Tallinn's oldest cemetery, which was unfortunately flattened by the Soviets in 1964 to make way for military complexes. Clues to the park's original purpose exist only in the form of a plaque and a bell tower from the year 1780.
In terms of dining or shopping, one might expect that such an up-and-coming area would be on the pricey side - it’s not. Although quite trendy at the moment, most of the establishments in Kalamaja are much less expensive than those located in Old Town. Hopefully, it will stay that way, at least for a little while.
Although there are places to eat and shop scattered throughout the district (with new ones opening up every month), the epicentre of the whole Kalamaja frenzy, including shops, boutiques, handi-crafters, a large flea market, eateries and much of the nightlife scene, seems to be headquartered in and around the old Telliskivi factory and warehouse complex - Telliskivi Loomelinnak (Telliskivi Creative City). The space has a wonderful community feel to it, with plenty of events and festivals happening throughout the year. This is probably your best place to start when visiting the district and it’s easily reachable, just around the corner from the far end of the renovated Balti Jaam Market, where you'll find plenty to eat in the ever-growing street food area.
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