Linnahall: portrait of an abandoned Soviet-era concert hall

Linnahall (a.k.a V. I. Lenin Palace of Culture and Sports) is one of the biggest eyesores in all of Tallinn; drab, grey and ugly… perhaps this is why I love it so much.

Built during the 1980 Moscow Olympics, this derelict concert hall has somehow managed to blur the line between Soviet monstrosity and brutalist beauty. They do say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, so I’m going with the latter.

“Concert Hall”

This is not the first time Linnahall has made an appearance on Hidden Tallinn. I have written about this place before and I regularly visit with tour groups or on my own to take in a good Baltic sunset. So why, are all these years, have I decided to revisit this famous Soviet remnant?

In this new ear of gentrification, many of the buildings and locations I used to treasure are being repurposed or bulldozed (even Patarei Prision is up for auction!) I’m aware that this is an inevitability in 21st century Europe but nonetheless, I want to keep the story of these places alive as best as I can.

Broken windows are always so enticing

Linnahall is one of my favourite Soviet buildings in Europe so, partly for my own amusement, I decided to take a slow walk around the perimeter one evening documenting the small details that many of us miss in our brief encounter with this place.

The result is this collection of images: a photographic tribute to Linnahall. I hope you enjoy them, and don’t forget to treasure your abandoned places while they’re still here.

Stairway to… nowhere

Linnahall is a wild place

Soviet symmetry

Patarei Prison; a reminder of darker times

Watch your step

Enemies guard the stairs

Beauty in brutalism

Iconic Linnahall lampposts

The golden hour

Another ferry delivers passengers back to Tallinn

“Street art”


Soviet monstrosity or brutalist beauty?

Linnahall is one of the first stops on my Soviet Walking Tour. If you would like to come and explore Soviet Tallinn with me, click on the image below or email me at


2 thoughts on “Linnahall: portrait of an abandoned Soviet-era concert hall

  1. Gui Reply

    A renovation plan was agreed last week between the City, Tallink and its main shareholder !

    1. tomtonks Reply

      Thanks for the update Gui, I just found the news article you’re talking about…

      “A mutual intentions agreement between the companies and the city of Tallinn will see around €300 million spent on a conference and concert venue, hotel and shopping mall, complete with a new harbor for Tallink ferries.”

      Just what Tallinn needs. More hotels, shopping malls and tourists. I always get concerned when I hear news of renovations. Linnahall is such a unique place and I hope that the story and atmosphere of this building doesn’t get lost in all this redevelopment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.