50km west of Tallinn, perched on the precarious coastal limestone cliffs that characterise the coastline, lies the former Soviet military town of Paldiski.
In its heyday, the town was a nuclear submarine training base; home to around 16,000 troops and officers – the largest base of its kind in the entire Soviet Union . Such was the size and significance of Paldiski, a perimeter of barbed wire encircled the town until the last Russian warship left in 1994.
Today, Paldiski is full of crumbling architectural remnants of the Soviet regime. The quiet and slightly solemn ambience coupled with the old Soviet blocks are the most prevalent characteristics of the town. Investment has reached the region, however, and new housing and recreational areas are visible.
Largely, however, Paldiski remains aesthetically very industrial aside from perhaps its most interesting architectural structure – the lighthouse. Sitting at the very tip of the Pakri Peninsula, this tower cuts a lonely figure; its peeling paintwork and eerie quietness offering a glimpse of a once grand beacon signalling boats in and out of this busy shipping lane.
For anybody interested in discovering more about the remnants of the Soviet Union in modern day Estonia, Paldiski is definitely worth a visit.