Attractions & museums

    Patarei Prison exhibition area

    The authentic prison interior of the Patarei exhibition area introduces the nature of communist ideology and the crimes of its implementers in different countries, the stories of the victims of communism and Nazism, and the eventful history of Patarei since its construction as a naval fortress in the 19th century.  

    Patarei (‘battery’) is one of the largest completely preserved classical style building ensembles in Estonia and the surrounding area. It was built as a sea fortress by order of Russian emperor Nicholas I in the 19th century, but with changes in military technology, the fortress soon lost its value as a defence structure and was instead used a barracks for soldiers of various army units. In 1919, Patarei was converted into a prison – a purpose for which it was well-suited thanks to its 2-metre thick walls. It was used as such by all the foreign powers who occupied Estonia in the 20h century, including the communist regime of the Soviet Union (in Estonia 1940-1941, 1944-1991) who imprisoned innocent people in the fortress on an ideological pretext.     

    The exhibition area “Communism is Prison” consists of the preserved prisoners’ walkways in the courtyard, a selection of cells, washroom and corridors, the administrative rooms (including rooms for photographing and examining the prisoners and those for the prison staff), the execution chamber with an anteroom, where the death sentence was read out to the victim, and many other rooms.  

    The exhibition area is the first manifestation of the International Museum for the Victims of Communism and research centre that will be established in the Patarei complex in the coming years. The exhibition area is open during the summer season (May – September).   

    Entrance is free with Tallinn Card. 

    NB! Last entry at 17.15.
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    TripAdvisor® Traveler Reviews

    TripAdvisor logo tripadvisor rating 4.5 of 5

    based on 464 reviews

    • Very detailed and haunting old prison

      tripadvisor rating 5 of 5
      June 26, 2020 By ET8

      Happened upon this place by chance and it was really great. The place is quite huge (and chilly even in summer) with all information in Estonian and English. You could easily spend 2 hours reading... Read more comments

    • Interesting exposition

      tripadvisor rating 5 of 5
      May 29, 2019 By sp0rtl1fe

      A part of the prison had been reopened with an exposition about communism and the horrors that went on in the prison. It's a very intriguing exposition that can keep you occupied for a few hours. And... Read more comments

    • Historic site not to be missed

      tripadvisor rating 5 of 5
      May 23, 2019 By 123Margaret4711

      We came across this museum by chance. This gives a very detailed explanation of what the Estonian people suffered under Soviet Union. There are many stories from inmates - quite shocking. I would... Read more comments