Weird and dark places you need to visit

Source: Tony Bowden, CC 4.0,

Weird and dark places you need to visit

It’s time to dust off and reveal some of the most fascinating up and coming dark tourism destinations in Estonia. Estonian oral history is made of complex layers, from its medieval merchant heyday to undergoing some of the darkest events to unfold in the 20th century. Below is a selection of historically relevant abandoned factories, occupation-era prisons and medieval castle ruins, as well as exhibitions inspired by urban myths.

KGB prison cells

Harju maakond, Kesklinna linnaosa

One of the most notorious and feared pre-trial prisons operated in the basement of the building at 1 Pagari Street during the Soviet occupation. The former KGB prison cells are now open to the public. Built in 1912, the building has had a remarkable role in the recent history of Estonia. Arrested Estonian politicians, civil servants, intellectuals, veterans of the War of Independence, as well as ordinary people were beaten and tortured there. Many were then sentenced to death or imprisonment. The prison cells built in the basement have remained a symbol of communist terror to this day. Visitors can explore the basement comprised of two corridors, six prison cells, and a cell for punishment.

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A nightime trip to the primeval forest of Sagadi Manor

Lääne-Viru maakond, Sagadi küla

At night, the forest is mysterious, unknown, and mystical. All senses are heightened in the forest at night. Only the bravest have gone for a forest hike at night.  We offer an exciting discovery trip to the primeval forests of Lahemaa. We will listen to the sounds of the night, hear stories told by different scents, and look for signs of animal activity. The trip can either start before midnight or shortly before dawn, when the forest comes alive with the songs of the waking birds. Our experienced guides will make sure that the hike is safe.

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KGB Cages Museum

Tartu maakond, Tartu linn

KGB Cages Museum is situated where in 1940-50-s a South-Estonia Centre of KGB used to be housed. Some of the cells and corridor part of the cellar are restored in their initial form. Other former cells contain exposition that gives an overview on post-war Estonian freedom fighting and about communist regime crimes. Here you can explore exhibits brought back from Siberian prison camps, as well as learn about the history of bushwhackers and secret resistance organisations.

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Kudjape Graveyard

Saare maakond, Kudjape alevik

Established in 1780 town graveyard together with chapels in classicistic style is under protection as architectural memory. Among the chapels the most beautiful are built in 1848 into main gates of the graveyard rooms with colonnade facade in the shape of little Greek temple. Graveyard itself is like a museum of sculpture and hammered art. Here we can see plenty of crypt graves covered with heavy stone plates and tasteful masterfully fine-tuned classicistic grave monuments that often have the shape of urn or vase all dating into first half of the 19th century. Interesting to know: In the graveyard there are the graves of four outstanding persons.

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Ungru Manor ruins

Lääne maakond, Kiltsi küla

Ungru Manor is one of the most impressive neo-baroque buildings in Estonia, although the castle was never fully completed. It is an imposing building, which is an almost exact copy of the Merseburg Castle in Germany. Behind the construction of the manor was a sad love story: Count Ungern-Sternberg fell in love with the daughter of the lord of Merseburg Castle, who had promised to spend her entire life in Merseburg Castle. The count promised to build an exact replica of the building and she agreed to move there. However, the construction stopped when the count's lover suddenly fell ill and died. These are mystical ruins in a beautiful place, making it a wonderful place for taking pictures!

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Pärnu Ghost Tour

Throughout Estonia

Do you know which street corner is the most likely place for meeting a humming Medieval monk? Or which is the most haunted building in the summer capital of Estonia? Ghost Tour takes enthusiasts to the most interesting paths and streets in Pärnu. Mystic stories and myths about the dark side of Pärnu create a very different image of the resort town that is usually so sunny. The tour begins by the clock near the fountains on Rüütli square and lasts for an hour. NB! Other time tours take place only if ordered in advance! When coming on a tour, there should be at least 7 of you; however, the more the merrier!

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Patarei Prison and Sea Fortress exhibition area

Harju maakond, Põhja-Tallinna linnaosa

The Patarei Sea Fortress in Tallinn, built in the nineteenth century, is a gem of the Baltic Sea region – a Classical defensive structure that has is still fully standing. This is a memorial to the victims of communism and Nazism, as well as a meaningful symbol of resistance on the part of martyrs of the Republic of Estonia. The building has been used as an artillery battery, barracks, and prison. It is part of Europe’s architectural heritage.  The exhibition area ‘Communism is prison’, introducing the ideology and crimes of communism and the history of the building, is open in Patarei prison. The exhibition area covers nearly 1,200 square metres in the eastern wing of the prison, where you can see the original interior and prison yard.

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Kreenholm area and Kreenholm Textile Factory

Ida-Viru maakond, Narva

The double-terraced waterfall is located on the Narva River, just above the city. Kreenholm Island is located between the two terraces. The famous Kreenholm Textile Factory was built on the shore of the waterfall in the 19th century and was the largest factory in the Russian Empire at that time. In 1913 more than ten thousand people worked there! A compact complex of industrial architecture developed around the factory that included the factory, a hospital, workers' barracks, directors' houses, and Kreenholm Park. The buildings were built in the English style using red brick. The Kreenholm brand is known far beyond Estonia. The territory of the manufactory is closed, but there are guided tours on Sundays.

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Hara Harbour and submarine base

Harju maakond, Hara küla

Hara Island is where the beautiful nature of Lahemaa, history and the perseverance of our ancestors meet. This is a former military case, now known as the Hara submarine base. With the help of underwater engineering facilities, demagnetisation was carried out here which made the hulls of ships and submarines less susceptible to naval mines.  You can walk on the quay and admire the ruins of the buildings (some may collapse, so be careful!), but you can also order a guided tour. Did you know that on the island of Hara, the famous ‘Tallinn sprats’ were manufactured under the leadership of V. R. Sörensen. Estonia’s most beautiful sailing ship, Tormilind, was also built in Hara Bay.

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Kiltsi airfield

Lääne maakond, Kiltsi küla

Built by the former Soviet army, Kiltsi airfield covers an area of about 800 hectares. The concrete runways are 2,500 m long, and it once had 28 hangars for airplanes. Construction of the airfield began in 1939, and it was used until 1956. In 1969, it was reconstructed. After the departure of the Soviet army, the airfield fell into disrepair, leaving behind old airplane hangars, barracks, and runways.  The territory of the Kiltsi airfield belongs to the Lääne district of the Defence League. NB! To enter the territory of the airfield, you must have a permit. 17 Lahe Street, open Mon–Fri from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A speed limit of 50 km/h applies on the airfield.

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Last updated : 03.12.2018

In category: History & culture