Nestled within the intriguing landscapes of Estonia, lies a captivating world of forgotten stories and enchanting decay; the realm of “Abandoned Estonia.” As an explorer of forgotten places and a history enthusiast, I have had the privilege of journeying through this country to discover its hidden treasures. In this blog post, I am excited to share with you my 8 favourite abandoned places in Tallinn and beyond.
This new era of renovation has claimed many of Estonia’s most enchanting abandoned places but even today, there are secrets left discover. So, whether you’re a fellow urban explorer, history lover, or simply intrigued by the allure of decay, join me as we uncover eight more sites in Abandoned Estonia.
Check out my previous post: 8 Abandoned Places to explore in and around Tallinn
What a place to start! Hidden in a forest close to Harku, these one-hundred-year-old ammunition tunnels were built by the Russian army in 1917 to store explosives and weapons for the defence system of Peter the Great during World War 1. This territory was also a secret military base during the Soviet days and as you wander through the landscape you will also notice several abandoned buildings from this time scattered throughout the forest. Fascinating and forgotten, these historically protected tunnels are open to the public so it is possible to gain access. Just don’t forget your torch!
If you want to hear the full story of the Astangu military base you can join me for a tour! Information available though Laternamatkad (Lantern Hikes).
#2. Franz Krull Factory
Tallinn factories are an endangered species in Abandoned Estonia, but of all those that still survive, this if my favourite! Also known as Tallinn Machinery Factory during the Soviet days, this factory has stood in this location since 1899, producing everything from heat transmitters to Lenin heads. As of summer 2023, the production houses of this factory have finally closed marking the very last days of this Kalamaja factory. Franz Krull is still one of the best-preserved factories in Põhja-Tallinn but if you want to see it for yourself, go sooner rather than later! Renovations have already begun…
If this sounds like your kinda place and you’d like to hear the full story then you can join me on my “Abandoned Tallinn: Last Chance to See” Tour. Just send me a message on Instagram to book your tour.
There are so many abandoned military structures here, it really is a gold mine! Batteries, defence posts and a secret deep sea mine assembly workshop, all linked together by a network of narrow gauge railway lines. Naissaar is fantastic for a two day adventure. Bring your hiking boots, tent and don’t forget your camera.
Check out my full article here for the history of this unique place.
Our next stop in our Abandoned Estonia journey takes us to the east of Estonia; to Narva-Jõesuu. This is a tiny spa resort town close to the Russian border whose best days are almost certainly in the past. Many people still visit this border region today for a little spa getaway or beach chill, but dotted in between the modern hotels, restaurants and bars are the remains of those resorts that didn’t quite make it.
The Rohuneeme missile base operated from 1959 to 1989 and was an important part of the Soviet Air Defence Force. S-75 and S-300 missiles were kept here and in the late 1960s, the base was also equipped with 100 mm anti-aircraft guns. These weapons were esigned to destroy large groups of targets or to shoot down an aircraft carrying a nuclear weapon. Yes, this was a serious military site!
Today, this overgrown territory only looks like a small forest on a map. Venture into the forest for some urbex though and you will discover the forgotten remains of this missile base.
Many people in the Estonian urbex community know about Viivikonna, a mostly-abandoned ‘ghost town’ out in the east; an urbex paradise straight out of the Soviet days.
The Republic of Estonia founded a small settlement here in 1935. It grew rapidly in the early Soviet days with thousands of workers coming from across the union to work in the oil shale mines. These miners and their families lived in the grand Stalinist houses of Viivikonna, travelling to and from the mines every day on fleets of buses, until, in 1974, the mine simply dried up. Since then the story of Viivikonna is one of steady decline. The town has many abandoned houses and shops, a derelict bus station and an empty school house. Despite this, a tiny population of less than 50 still call this place home. Visitors are quite a common sight for locals, but urban explorers beware. It is surprisingly easy to wander into an inhabited houses by mistake!
The carcass of Viivikonna reminds us how even the biggest industries ebb and flow. These oil shale mines move across the landscape of a country, leaving a trail of abandoned breadcrumbs in their wake.
Here is an awesome article from Emptiness documenting the story of Viivikonna.
#7. Balti Manufaktuur
Maybe you have already noticed this abandoned beast while taking the Kopli tram. Inside this gorgeous red brick building lies the remains of Balti Manufaktuur, a.k.a The Baltic Cotton Factory. This huge textile complex operated from 1898-2006 and is actually pretty well-documented in the Estonia archives. Alongside the factory you can also see the Balti Manufaktuur settlement. Residential buildings, a master’s residence, school house, an old sauna house and even a church are scattered around the complex.
Regarding urban exploration in Balti Manufaktuur, time is running out I’m afraid. The entire industrial complex has been purchased and work to turn this into a modern residential facility is already underway. This abandoned factory is fitted with motion detecting alarms and you can only gain access now with owner’s permission. Still, I managed to get that permission and it was well-worth a visit. The long, echoey production rooms, abandoned office spaces and empty canteen provided some sweet photo opportunities.
#8. Old Town
Yes, you read that right, Old Town! Believe it or not, there are several abandoned buildings in Tallinn’s medieval centre. Talk about ‘hidden in plain site’! It’s interesting to take a walk through a place as familiar as Old Town and see how many abandoned buildings you can spot. Last time I tried, I counted six. Bonus points if you manage to access any of these buildings (legally, of course 😉).