Bastion passages in Old Town

Tunnels of Tallinn – hidden bastion passages on Toompea Hill in the Old Town. A fascinating attraction for the history lovers and fans of dungeon mysteries. The entrance to them is in the Kiek-in-de-Köök Tower, and the labyrinths themselves belong to the Tallinn City Museum.

History of Tallinn’s bastion passages

The construction of underground passages under Tallinn’s earth ramparts began in the 17th and 18th centuries. At that time defensive bastions were also built around the city. The direct purpose of underground labyrinths was to provide communication between them. Among other things, secret passages were used for moving weapons, movement of soldiers and spies.

However, in practice, these underground passages were not used in military operations. That is why in XVIII century, they were used for storehouses. By 1857 the Tallinn earth fortifications were excluded from the list of defensive constructions, and parks – Ingrian and Swedish – were laid out in their place.

In 1936 the tunnels were rebuilt into bomb shelters. During the Soviet period the building was supplied with electricity, water, arranged telephone connection and constructed ventilation. The cave turned into a real underground city, where one could hide from the dangers of war for a long time.

In the 70s, the dungeon was not used according to its direct purpose. In 80s the Estonian Art Fund kept its sculptures here. In the early 90s the labyrinths were turned into a shelter for the homeless. Representatives of informal youth also gathered here.

Description of the underground bastions

As the construction material for the walls of the dungeons used flagstone. Their thickness reached 1.5 meters and their height varied from 2.5 to 3 meters. At the same time, in some places, the thickness of walls reaches 4 meters. The inner part of the walls had casemates up to 2.5 metres wide.

The vaulted ceiling of the bastions is cylindrical. The ceiling has ventilation holes. The floors of the labyrinths are connected by a system of flights of stairs and descents several hundred meters long. At the moment, visitors can go through 380 meters of labyrinths.

Photo gallery

Bastion passages exposition

The exhibitions of the bastions reflect the different eras of their existence. It is aided by mannequins dressed in period costumes. Here you can also look at items found in the labyrinths, left by the former inhabitants. Each exhibition has an information board.

A special place is given to the Soviet period. There are information posters from those years, as well as equipment used by the military and the KGB. By the way, some of them are still here as exhibits.


Other interesting places

  • Some resemblance to the dungeons is the Battery Prison in Tallinn. Here you can also learn about the 200-year history of human destinies.
  • Also do not miss the opportunity to visit the Estonian History Museum. By booking a tour, you can learn a lot more about the country!
  • There are also dungeons in Rakvere Castle. In particular, there is a torture chamber, which you can visit with a guided tour.