There’s something about abandoned, forgotten places that really intrigues me. Whether it’s the exciting feeling of rebelliously being somewhere forbidden or the chance to explore unique places and discover lost secrets, I have a strong desire to seek out these places when I travel. If you feel the same, then Estonia offers many interesting opportunities! Here are five abandoned places I’ve explored so far.
This large concrete sports and entertainment complex was completed in 1980 as a venue for the sailing events of the Moscow Olympics. The hall was closed in 2010 and despite plans for renovations to commence this year the area remains derelict.
2. Tartu Cathedral
Last year whilst in Tartu for a work trip I stumbled onto the beautiful ruins of the Tartu Cathedral during an early morning run. Perched atop Toomemägi (Cathedral Hill) amidst thick trees I was stunned and awed to see the huge stone ruin emerging from the trees. I had no idea about the existence of the cathedral and such fortuitous discoveries are what I love most about travel. While part of the cathedral is a museum run by the University of Tartu, most of it is open to the sun and trees. It really reminded me of the ruins in Ever After!
3. Rummu Sunken Prison
Rummu quarry is a submerged limestone quarry, next to two now-closed prisons; Rummu and Murru. Formed in the late 1930s, prisoners from both sites were used in the excavation of limestone until the 1990s. While groundwater was pumped out of the quarry during operation, after it’s closure the water built up to form a lake, submerging part of the utility buildings and machinery. Now closed to the public, you can visit on a tour like this one.
4. Padise Abbey
This Cistercian Monastery was founded in the 14th century by monks who had been dispossessed from their Latvian Dünamünde Abbey. Over the years it became a fortress and then a country house in the 18th century. Now all that remains are abandoned ruins. Like most places in Estonia, you have free reign to explore the site, including the musty dirt-floor cellars and high tower, reached by old wooden and stone steps.
5. Soviet town of Paldiski
This Baltic sea port town does not so much have a specific abandoned building, rather the feeling of a whole town having been abandoned. Originally the Swedish settlement of Rågervik, it became a Russian naval base in the 1900s. Near the town you can also visit the limestone Pakri cliffs, complete with abandoned lighthouses.
Tip: a convenient place to visit buildings with an abandoned feel are the laneways between Tallinn’s old town and the uber cool Telliskivi.