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.

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    TripAdvisor® Traveler Reviews

    TripAdvisor logo tripadvisor rating 4.0 of 5

    based on 1189 reviews

    • History with a view

      tripadvisor rating 4 of 5
      June 25, 2022 By Lindsay T

      The Towers & Bastions cover a lot of history in a relatively small space, I think there is something for everyone to appreciate. Most of the history in the towers is focused on the medieval era, but... Read more comments

    • Simply superb

      tripadvisor rating 5 of 5
      June 25, 2022 By richardmP1661JV

      Incredible place. There are two parts to the museum. Firstly are the towers. There is a lot of history and exibitions in the main tower which is interesting. You can also get from there into a number... Read more comments

    • I paid for passages and towers because I saved €4 I believe when bought together. On the other hand...

      tripadvisor rating 5 of 5
      June 14, 2022 By DrSoulpr

      I paid for passages and towers because I saved €4 I believe when bought together. On the other hand... I didn't look into what "the passages" were. I Loved the towers, the coffee shop and city from... Read more comments