Tell Me All Your Secrets – Hotel Viru

Tell Me All Your Secrets - Hotel Viru

The building now known as Original Sokos Hotel Viru first opened in 1972, after construction delays and a fire in one of the upper floors. Apart from being a hotel the building and its secret history plays an interesting part in the history of the city.

Tell Me All Your Secrets - Hotel Viru

View of the Hotel Viru from Tallinn’s Old Town

The hotel is known for once hosting the KGB. Though, like anything involving the Soviet Union, the details are foggy. It is known that the 23rd floor of the building, now a museum, was home to a radio centre and that a number of rooms were under surveillance.

At the time the hotel was becoming a meeting point for international guests visiting the city and prime location for gathering information. Mystery still surrounds why information was collect, for what purpose and what was done with it after.

Tell Me All Your Secrets - Hotel Viru

In 1991 the KGB quickly abandoned residence in the hotel when Estonia became independent. Now, the hotel is operated by the Sokos Hotel chain.

Further Reading:

A winter’s Day in Tallinn’s Old Town

Modern day Sokos Hotel Viru and its KGB Museum

Other Soviet stories in A visit to Porkkala and 1950’s Era Russia

A winter’s Day in Tallinn’s Old Town

A winter's Day in Tallinn's Old Town

Over the years I have visited Tallinn many times thanks to it being only a short ferry ride from Helsinki. Each time visiting new places and getting to know the city that little bit more. Whatever my plans they always include a trip to its Old Town.

A winter's Day in Tallinn's Old Town

Tallinn’s Old Town refers to its medieval region that dates back to the 13th century in the heart of the city. Its cobbled streets, gothic architecture and well preserved city walls make it a must to people visiting the Baltic region.

A winter's Day in Tallinn's Old TownA winter's Day in Tallinn's Old Town

There are plenty of small laneways to walk and discover. You don’t need to worry about get lost because, more often than not, you end up at the Town Hall Square, home to one of the best Christmas markets, and surrounded by authentic restaurants, bars and cafes.

A winter's Day in Tallinn's Old Town

There are two great view points over Tallinn’s Old Town. They can be difficult to find but after a climb up hill and winding through the small cobbled streets you will be rewarded with uninterrupted views, even on a snowy winter’s day.

A winter's Day in Tallinn's Old Town

A winter's Day in Tallinn's Old Town

Exploring Tallinn’s Old Town can easily take a day but make sure you spare some time to travel further afield. Telliskivi, Kadriorg park and the beautiful neighbourhood of Kalamaja are all worth a visit.

A winter's Day in Tallinn's Old Town

Further Reading:

For more photos from Tallinn visit my Instagram.

Take a look at one of my other visits to the city in Doors of Tallinn.

The Many Faces of Tallinn

I was in Tallinn for the day, as many of you may already know, photographing the city for Day With A Local. I have been in Tallinn many times but this time was different. Firstly, I was alone and could explore at my leisure, secondly, I was able to see the city in a completely different way.

It started with Linnahall, an area I have always wanted to visit but never got around to, even though I have passed by it many times when leaving and returning to the port. Then as I walked through the neighbourhood of Kalamaja, pretty much by accident, I started to see a city of colour. Each building and door different from the last.

Once seeing these details there was no stopping my eyes from seeing more. As I begun walking the streets of the medieval Old Town I started to see faces hidden in the buildings themselves. Maybe it was just me, after looking for so long you can start to trick yourself, so I want to hear what you think.

Here are my best buildings with faces from Tallinn. If you enjoy them I would like to hear from you in the comments below, tell me what your favourite is or share with me a building you have photographed that has its own expression.

The Many Faces of Tallinn

The strange expression of St Nicholas Church.

The Many Faces of Tallinn

Timed this one perfectly when a passer-by appeared down the alleyway, or should I say open mouth.

The Many Faces of Tallinn

This one could be a little bit of a reach but those half circular windows in the roof definitely resemble eyes.

The Many Faces of Tallinn

Looking out of the old town. Many tourists and visitors to Tallinn’s old town come through this way. Doesn’t this entrance look surprised?

Tell me your favourite below.

Further reading:

More from Tallinn HERE, my favourite would be my visit to Linnahall.

I am a team member of Day With A Local and these photographs were taken in cooperation with them.

Another great city I recently visited was Copenhagen.

Doors of Tallinn

Photographing doors had never occurred to me until a year ago but now I find myself doing it more and more often. After walking through the Kalamaja neighbourhood and looking for more details of the city I begun to look out for unique doors as I walked through the old town.

Doors of Tallinn

My favourite from the doors I photographed in Kalamaja.

Doors of Tallinn

Passing through the medieval streets of Tallinn’s old town.

Doors of Tallinn Doors of Tallinn

A side door to the grand Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. It wouldn’t be fair to include the main entrance to the cathedral here.

Doors of Tallinn

A modest entrance to a cellar bar and restaurant nestled in the walls of the old town.

Doors of Tallinn

The juxtaposition between door and building. The underwhelming colourless walls with its bright blue door.

Doors of Tallinn

Not exactly a door but I am going to include it, at least it adds a but of variety and demonstrates the surprises you find on ever corner of Tallinn.

As there is little road traffic in the old town and therefore not many cars parked up on the sides of the roads there were far more opportunities for photographs.

See a fellow bloggers perspective on the same door at Destination Anywhere, minus the scaffolding.

The grand (above) and the old (below). Which do you prefer?

This trip opened my eyes to the peculiar beauty of Tallinn and it was a welcomed surprise. I look forward to returning and seeing more. I was only able to visit a few of the neighbourhoods in the center of town, next time I want to travel further afield.

Any tips on any particularly special areas in Tallinn that you think I should visit? I would like to hear them in the comments.

Further reading:

Read my previous post Doors of Kalamaja

I am a team member of Day With A Local and these photographs were taken in cooperation with them.

More doors HERE.

Doors of Kalamaja

After leaving Linnahall I headed in the general direction of Telliskivi, a creative neighbourhood I had visited before. I wouldn’t say that I know Tallinn well but felt that I could wind my way through the streets until I had a better idea of where I was but hoping to stumble upon where I needed to be.

After a few roads of relatively new buildings I came across a quaint neighbourhood full of older, colourful wooden houses, each with its own character. I especially notice the striking and unique doors that I begun to photograph as I walked through. Some were obscured by cars but there were still plenty of others to choose from.

I soon realised that I had stumbled across a very interesting part of Tallinn I never expected to see, especially when I found the small Kalju Church, unfortunately it’s door was locked.

The Doors ranged hugely, from the beautiful to the rugged, the well preserved to the beaten up, and the colourful to the plain. Still, it didn’t matter even the plainest of doors had their own character, you just had to look a little harder to see it.

Kalamaja is a neighbourhood of growing popularity in the city of Tallinn. Bordered by the medieval stonewalls of the old town on one side and Tallinn’s coastline on the other, it is a diverse and interesting neighbourhood with Telliskivi at its heart.

I began to think that I had seen them all but further up the road I would be even more surprised by the next, especially when they became more striking and colorful.

What’s your favorite door from Tallinn? Let me know in the comments below and I would like to see your favourite doors, share a link to your post or Instagram.

Further Reading:

How about my post Colourful Copenhagen, another surprisingly colourful city, even on a foggy winter’s day.

I am a team member of Day With A Local and these photographs were taken in cooperation with them.

More doors HERE.

Linnahall In Black and White

Slowly decaying on a small section of Tallinn’s coast is Linnahall, an old sports and concert venue built in 1980. The venue was built as part of the Olympics that took place in Moscow in the same year.  At this time Estonia was apart of the Soviet Union and as Moscow didn’t have a suitable location to hold the sailing events Tallinn was chosen.

Linnahall In Black and White

Linnahall In Black and White

There was little sign of life and I was the only walking around. At the entrance there were a few cars parked outside but I had no idea where the owners would have gone. If the offices inside were used I thought to myself, what a miserable place to work.

Linnahall In Black and White

Linnahall In Black and White

When the venue was completed it was named V. I. Lenin Palace of Culture and Sport but was later changed to Linnahall, most likely when Estonia became independent in 1991.

Linnahall In Black and White

Linnahall In Black and White

Who knows when Poseidon saw its last customers. Not much of a night out now.

Linnahall In Black and White

You can walk fairly freely around the building as long as you can navigate the maze of stairs, many of which still lead to a dead end or locked gate.
Linnahall In Black and White

Linnahall In Black and White

What surprised me most about Linnahall was that the building was completed in 1980, and from the looks of things, it was abandoned almost right away. I know, 1980 was actually sometime ago and more likely the venue has been used more recently.

Linnahall In Black and White

Linnahall In Black and White

It seems like such a waste to leave a large and interesting building to go unused but it happens everywhere, especially when it comes to buildings built for the Olympics. My visit to Linnahall has sparked my interested and I am keen to learn more about the building and what the city has planned for its future.

Linnahall In Black and White Linnahall In Black and White

As with any building left to sink into disrepair, Linnahall has attracted a fair amount of attention from graffiti artists, some of it better than others..

Linnahall In Black and White

Linnahall In Black and White

Views of St Olaf’s Church and Tallinn’s medieval old town can be seen as it’s only a short distance away.

Linnahall In Black and White

From the outside it is difficult to tell what Linnahall is all about. The crumbling and graffitied walls, the locked doors and barred windows, are hiding the secrets of what lies within. Unfortunately, that will have to wait for another time.

Linnahall In Black and White

Further reading:

I am a team member of Day With A Local and these photographs were taken in cooperation with them.

If you are a fan of Landscapes try my post Lapland in Black and White or take a look at my other posts in black and white, there are plenty.