Attractions & museums
Photo: Paul Kuimet
Photo: Paul Kuimet

    Bastion passages in the Tallinn Old Town

    The mysterious Bastion passages, dating back to the 17th to 18th centuries, run beneath Toompea and are an integral part of the city’s defence system together with the town wall and its towers. Enter the tunnels through the Kiek in de Kök Fortifications Museum to learn about their fascinating history and to view Tallinn from below.

    Like any respectable medieval town, Tallinn has its share of underground passageways, particularly the defensive tunnel systems built during the time of Swedish rule in the 17th century. 

    Back then, attack was a constant worry, so city planners constructed high bastion walls around the outside of the fortified city. They also installed tunnels under the base of the walls so they could safely move soldiers and ammunition where needed, not to mention spy on the enemy.

    With time, some tunnels were forgotten. As late as 2003, workers digging a foundation near the Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom found a pentagonal system of limestone-lined tunnels dating from the end of the 17th century.

    Other tunnels have always been well known, in particular the Bastion Tunnels that run underneath Harju Hill and Linda Hill at the edge of Toompea. They were built in the 1670s but were hardly used until the 20th century, when they were repurposed as bomb shelters during World War II. During the Soviet period, they were further modernised to add electricity, running water, ventilation and a phone connection. 

    Today, visitors can see some of the old equipment leftover from that era, as well as parts of the tunnels that retain their more medieval look. 

    Please bear in mind that the temperature in the tunnels is 10-12 ⁰C year-round, so be sure to wear something warmer during summer months; the museum also has blankets.  

    It is recommended to visit the museum with an audio-guide. The app is free and available in Estonian, English, Russian and Finnish. To save time, please download the app before visiting the passages (Android / iOS). 

    The Bastion Passages are part of the Kiek in de Kök Fortifications Museum. You can enter the passages either through the Kiek in de Kök artillery tower or the Maiden’s Tower (Neitsitorn) museum-café. 

    The Kiek in de Kök Fortifications Museum, including the Bastion Passages, is free with the Tallinn Card.


    TripAdvisor® Traveler Reviews

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    based on 1181 reviews

    • Great views of Tallinn

      tripadvisor rating 5 of 5
      September 27, 2021 By Fudgemellow

      Kiek in de Kok houses a surprisngly large amount of exhibits. The main tower houses the main exhibition on Tallinn's history, ranging from trade to military exploits. The temporary exhibitions are... Read more comments

    • Good museum trip

      tripadvisor rating 4 of 5
      August 26, 2020 By Paul R

      Great value for money - if you’re short of time or money don’t bother with the bastion passages as quite a bit of it is a stone museum which isn’t exactly exciting. Top tip is leave for lunch as the... Read more comments

    • Underground & above-ground sights

      tripadvisor rating 5 of 5
      August 4, 2020 By Lysander4ever

      Basically 2 museums in 1: the underground passage (can be done via a - recommended - guided tour; check the museum website for the schedule), and the 4 towers (mini museums with lovely views over the... Read more comments