Visit the notorious architectural pearl Patarei before it’s closed for reconstruction and its eery interior will be lost forever. On the exclusive tour organised by Estonian Centre for Architecture, we will unlock the heavy doors to the Kalaranna Fortress and its maze-like corridors. As a bonus, you will see places that have never been open to the public.

Throughout history, Kalaranna Fortress has known many names and functions.

In the 1820s, Alexander I of Russia approved a fortification plan that included establishing a marine defence front around Tallinn. The next emperor Nicholas I started implementing the plan, and in 1830, construction works of the Kalaranna Fort were launched. It was an impressive stronghold with 2-metre seaside walls and three storeys of 72 larger and 18 smaller cannon chambers. The main structure of the fortress consists of a sharp-angled and two-winged building on the land side and a curved rampart on the seaside.

By the mid-19th century, the fortress lost its military purposes and was refurbished into barracks that accommodated up to several thousand soldiers at a time.

After the Estonian War of Independence, prisons were overflowing, and the Ministry of Justice decided to re-purpose the underutilised military complex as a prison. Officially established on 30 July 1919 and called the Central Prison, people quickly dubbed it 'Patarei' meaning ‘the battery’ (like in 'artillery battery'). The prison era entails some of the building’s most curious and notorious stories shared by the tour guides.

On this exclusive tour, the Estonian Centre for Architecture invites you to cast the last look at the sea fortress in its present form before it is transformed beyond recognition.

The building complex and surrounding area presently called the Patarei Sea Fortress will be developed by US Real Estate OÜ. According to the developer’s vision, Patarei will become a busy seaside hub with offices, apartment buildings, shops, food courts, and entertainment venues.

The 90-minute tour at Patarei Sea Fortress takes place in Estonian, Russian, English, and Finnish.


Tours organised by the Estonian Centre for Architecture are carried out by professional guides united by a common interest in architecture and its history.

Private tours to Patarei Sea Fortress and other exciting special tours to architectural pearls across Estonia are available in six languages. For more information, contact us at [email protected].


See the tours in English here

See the tours in Estonian here

See the tours in Russian here

Also, check out other tours and options provided by the Estonian Centre for Architecture

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Estonian Centre for Architecture

+372 56 978 680

info@archtours.ee