Patarei Sea Fortress and former prison

  Kalaranna 28 ,   Kalamaja & Kopli          +372 664 50 39     11 Sep 2023

This imposing, seaside complex in the Kalamaja district is one of Tallinn's most captivating seaside landmarks. Built in the early 19th century, the Patarei Sea Fortress initially served as a coastal artillery battery, guarding the entrance to Tallinn's harbour during a time of shifting tides in Europe's political landscape. As the years rolled by, this strategic stronghold underwent numerous transformations to adapt to evolving military needs, becoming a steadfast sentinel during the turbulence of World War I.
However, it is the Soviet era that has left an indelible mark on Patarei's annals. In the wake of Estonia's occupation by the Soviet Union in 1940, the fortress assumed an ominous new role as a prison—a place of confinement for political dissidents and criminals alike. The memories etched into the cold, unforgiving walls of Patarei prison are a haunting reminder of the darkest chapters in Estonia's history. It became emblematic of the oppression that reigned during the Soviet era, echoing the cries of those who endured its harsh conditions and blatant human rights abuses.
The restoration of Estonia's independence in 1991 marked a turning point, yet Patarei's fate remained uncertain. The prison's closure, in the early 2000s, brought forth discussions on how best to honour its historical significance. Patarei, a relic that had borne witness to both oppression and resilience, was considered a cultural heritage site deserving of preservation and a potential space for enlightenment.
Now, the winds of change are sweeping through Patarei. The complex is undergoing a remarkable transformation, one that promises to breathe new life into its storied walls. In the not-so-distant future, Patarei will house the International Memorial Museum for the Victims of Communism, scheduled to open to the public in May 2026. A significant portion of the complex will serve as a community center—a hub that unites workspaces, cultural venues, and eateries.
In the heart of Tallinn, where the Baltic Sea meets history, Patarei Sea Fortress stands as a silent sentinel, ready to embrace a future where its storied past is celebrated, and its haunting echoes find new purpose. Its tale is a testament to the enduring spirit of a nation and the power of memory to shape our understanding of the world around us.




Open June through September Fri - Sun 10:00 - 18:00. Last entry from 17:15.

Price/Additional Info

Admission €8, reduced €5, family €10-15.


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Henry Hughes
Newtownabbey Northern Ireland
As a regular visitor to Tallinn since 2015 , I came across this place ,possibly 2017 I think, I think it was closed a short time later , I wandered around the area , “” Off the beaten Tourist Track “ as it were and found it , I walked in , paid a lady a couple of Euros and I have to say in its “untidy state” , it was a scary place . At one point in the buildings ,looking through the Cell windows , with a view across to Finland , I thought that the view would only make it worse for prisoners , as they looked across to what was Freedom , but NEVER for them . The hairs on the back of my neck stood up at the thought . I trust that after the Coronavirus is over that I can revisit Patarei once again to compare “before and after”. Another place that I had hoped to visit inside was Linnahall close by , but closed to the public , a very different design of Concert Hall , but one that in my opinion should be reopened and kept as close to the original interior design as possible . And used as before for concerts .
Alan MacRae
Visited here with Estonian friends last year, very worthwhile to go to. It's an intimidating place and you can imagine that the prisoners have just left as everything is untouched from when it closed
This is not your typical comfortable tourist visit. It is an eerie and scary place. Our group had a 1 hour tour, and it was awesome to see....but be warned that it is untouched for the most part, so it can be uncomfortable at times. The tour gave an inside glimpse of Soviet era prison life. There is no electricity so be prepared to walk with your cell phone light. They also offer the "prisoner experience". Good luck with that! It will be something you will not soon forget!
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