An afternoon in Patarei Prison

It was a nice walk through a relatively quiet neighbourhood to get to Patarei Prison, up along the harbour. It didn’t look open – you go through the gate and there’s nothing recognisable as a ticket office, it looks abandoned until you see a little room with a woman who speaks no English at all.

Entering the prison

She sold me a ticket for €2, and tried to explain something to me in Estonian – waving her hands and pointing to places, I figured she was trying to tell me where not to go. Still, as I really didn’t understand a word I decided that I’d wander around everywhere that I could get into. I think I found the places she was trying to tell me not to go – the places where there was no lighting and it was black as night [not an Estonian summer night].

It doesn't look so bad...

The first place I visited was the hanging room – a creatively named little room where, you guessed it, they used to hang people. Criminals of some persuasion I assume, although the definition of ‘criminal’ could be a little loose under the Soviets compared to what we might imagine.

Looking into the Hanging Room

The Hanging Room

Next I wandered the exercise yards, and climbed up the rusty metal steps to get a lovely view of the prison.

View over the exercise yards/cages

View from the very top

I ended up spending almost three hours wandering around the prison. It was quite creepy, as it has literally been left as it was when it was abandoned in 2005 – it didn’t meet the standards required by the European Union.

Inside the halls

More hallways...

This bed looked disturbing, being made...and covered in a layer of dust

Pictures of women, ripped out of mens’ magazines, are peeling off the walls.

In one room, it appears that someone went a little mental with the prison’s entire collection of ancient dial telephones and typewriters.

Abandoned phones

Abused typewriters

There’s a medical wing of the prison, with a surgery full of medical equipment. It must be broken, if not when the prison closed then by now. Surprisingly though, there was a box of test tubes that were dusty but whole.

Medical wing

A lot of the walls are covered in graffiti – no doubt some from the prison’s operation and some added since closing.

I saw one other person exploring the prison while I was there. It felt a little eerie, walking around by myself, sometimes in the dark. I couldn’t help thinking that it would be pretty cool to spend the night, or have a party there. Neither are allowed, of course.

I must admit that my fascination with doors and locks, especially prison doors, continues. There’s just something about them…

I like doors...

And locks...

I don’t think it would be a particularly comfortable place to sleep…

I tried lying down...the inch of dust over the bunks is just not healthy.

Armed with a camera alone in a prison…who could resist taking some stupid photos?


5 responses to “An afternoon in Patarei Prison

  1. Oh my God __ What a dark miserable hell on earth of a place this is.I cannot even begin to imagine how horrendous it would be to be imprisoned here. I can’t work out what haunts me more , but I think all of it __ the empty solid concrete freezing looking corridors, the photo of the beautiful angelic girl looking so out of place on the crackling yellow cell wall, the animal caged exercise yard or the medical room with the out dated equipment.Not surprising is even the paintings you photographed are full of darkness and despair .

  2. Great post Cat. This place is amazing. I can’t believe it has only been closed for 6 years… Looks spooky… Loved the photos – great work. I have added this place to my wish list to visit – but I doubt it will still be there or open for tourists by the time I get there!

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