Finally, the city itself. I’d come here looking for the sites Tarkovsky had used in his film, Stalker but instead found a place uneasy about its past but focused on the future with an energy I’d never have guessed at.
These concrete domes were built in the early 20th century and were, at the time, the largest in the world. They have stained and coloured with age in a way unlike any others concrete I’ve seen.
Originally a fortress, it ended up as a prison during the Soviet era. There is an aura about this place that feels sorrowful.
Gutted I couldn’t get in although when I visited, there was someone there. The exterior hides a remarkable interior, the photo essay at https://failedarchitecture.com/photo-essay-how-long-is-the-life-of-a-building-tallinns-linnahall/ shows it off well.
Immediately adjacent to the memorial featured in yesterday’s post is this. Built during the Soviet occupation to commemorate the Russian and Estonian soldiers that died in World War II, as well as the sailors in two warships. The crosses were added later as a memorial to the fallen Germans. My understanding that the decision to site the soviet memorial here was another example of the cultural imperialism typical of the USSR in that it was built directly on top of an earlier, Estonian, commemorative site.
Between 17th June 1940 and 20th August 1991 Estonia was occupied by the communist regime. During that time, a million people were lost – about a fifth of the population – of those, about 75000 were murdered, imprisoned or deported. The scale of this horror is reflected in the size and structure of the monument. Tranquil, respectful, dignified and imposing. https://www.memoriaal.ee/en/memorial/
Brutally imposing, the tower is 314m tall – 170m to the observation deck. There’s a lift but you have to pay extra to use the stairs. It has got bullet holes at the base (from the 1991 revolution) and the concrete should withstand more than three hundred freeze/thaw cycles. The picture shows the seams of the 2.5m tall rings that were poured as a sliding mold moved up. From the deck, I could see the Gulf of Finland easily and got some good shots of Tallinn. Well worth a visit.
Imagine the impact arriving at the 1980 Olympics, ready to compete, and being greeted by this. Squat and intimidating in its power, this was the Olympic village. Now part of a spa and hotel complex, it sits at the edge of the Gulf of Finland.
In protest at the invasion of Afghanistan, most of the NATO allies boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. This is one of the first overtly political acts I remember becoming aware of as I grew up, the other being the anti-aparteid protests. The USSR ploughed on regardless, with the sailing taking place just outside Tallinn in Estonia. I find the Soviet take on the Olympic symbol amusing in a cheeky way.