walkscape Tallinn
Soviet innerness
Posted on August 12, 2017

A past made of traces, more or less touchable, mannerisms, habits and even more buildings. The Soviet era played a relevant role in Tallinn, as well as in the rest of the Baltic area, leaving proofs made of bricks and concrete. The Patarei prison is one of these. Originally built in 1840 by Tsar Nicholas I as a maritime fortress, under the Soviet regime hosted many inmates. The compound consists of a long crescent-shaped building overlooking the Baltic Sea with a triangle-shaped block from the back. Outside, a thriving vegetation covers most of the base, generating a neglected reality.

Enter into the complex is very easy and cheap. Once inside the courtyard, broken glasses, rubble and razor wire tangles are scattered everywhere. A few steps later, I am on a wooden boardwalk that puts me in mind the role of the jailer. I can walk back and forth and I can look the cramped cells from top to bottom. The only thing that separates the sky from the ground is a chain link roof, which reminds me strict animal cages.

The first perception, going inside the block, is an outstanding feeling of coldness, laced with damp and fug. The prison has been completely abandoned, so at the ground floor is very easy to go deeper almost everywhere. The dark corridors release a deafening silence. Upstairs, I walked down the white and green hallway. The white weak lights brighten the doors, from which get inside the glum cells. Wardrobes, chairs and waste papers remained all frozen in time. Worn walls, rusty doors and especially the clinic, emphasize even more the sense of concern.

Some of the cells have a considerable feature. They overlook the sea. The wind invades the space through the bars, sharpening the freedom that it carries. After all, what is freer than the wind, which undermines every crevice, always finding a way out? Over again, the endless magnitude of the sea, reflected in the eyes of the beholder, gives a sense of hopelessness to everything.