It was the last day of our London to Tallinn bike ride and – by sheer coincidence – my birthday. Such days deserve celebration and I cannot think of a finer way to mark the occasion than a visit to an abandoned submarine base, hidden deep in the peaceful forest ambience of Laahemaa National Park.
A seasonal September warmth poured across the dense forest as we wound our way through the ever-changing landscapes. We filled our lungs with the clean unblemished air and absorbed the sounds of, well, nothing; the low whirring of rubber on road was the only audible accompaniment.
“another fascinating abandoned building”
Tallinn was our end goal (the climax of our ten week ride) but we had one last mission to accomplish before our legs could stop spinning for the summer. Internet perusals had alerted me to yet another fascinating abandoned building tucked away in the tiny village of Hara. As readers may know, I love a good abandoned building. Peeling paint and derelict structures excite me in a way I can’t quite explain and Hidden Tallinn thrives on such spooky urbex stories. So, on my birthday, I thought I would treat myself.
Now would be the perfect time for a drumroll as the stage curtain begins to twitch.
Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages. Hidden Tallinn is proud to present the latest addition to Abandoned Estonia. Come one come all as I unveil, for your viewing pleasure: Hara Submarine Base. Isn’t she a beauty?
What’s the Story?
Built by the Soviets (who else?) between 1956 and 1958 this concrete beast was a thriving hub where lumbering submarines would surface for a breath of fresh air and a healthy dose of demagnetisation.
Woa, Hidden Tallinn – are you making up words now?
No, I am not. By decreasing or eliminating the remnants the magnetic field, a submarine becomes more difficult to detect and less-susceptible to naval mines. At peak operation, cables stretched out nearly 20km into the Baltic Sea allowing workers at Hara to neutralise the magnetism that these steal submarines emitted allowing them to slip through the Baltic Sea undetected. There were only three bases in the world capable of performing the demagnetisation procedure at this time. Very smart.
Today, Hara Submarine Base is only a skeleton, stripped of its meat by fierce Baltic winds and laid bare for all to see; frozen in a state of incremental deterioration. Imposing, yet lonely, it is almost possible to muster some sympathy for Hara as she sits there, stranded on the coast, staring out into the void with only a few swans for company. Rust and decay take dominium and street artists descend as this base enters the next stage of its life.
As we explored, my imagination raced to fill in the visual gaps. In the minds eye I tried to visualise a great port teeming with activity. Submarines docked, machinery pulsating and workers scurrying around preparing these lumbering giants for another deep sea voyage. Plots are hatched and orders barked out as the eerie silence of the present day is superseded by the mechanical resonances of industry.
Behind the solemn ambience, Hara has some stories she is itching to tell you. Sadly her voice had been muted by the remoreseless passage of time and it is within this absence that the modern day traveller must preside, basking in the mysteries of a forgotten era.
What a fascinating place. Happy Birthday, Me.