Vabaduse Väljak


Vabaduse Väljak or Independence / Freedom Square is the site used by the Soviet regime for their parades and gatherings. It is situated just outside the town walls below Toompea Castle at the bottom end of Hirve Park when it meets Pärnu Mnt.

Over twenty years ago this is where the Estonia SSR celebrated the big events such as May Day and patriotic parades but today it is a place where Estonian freedom and independence are celebrated. The huge open area was given a make-over in 2009 and is dominated by a 24m high cross called the Freedom Monument commemorating Estonia’s struggle for freedom between 1918 and 1920. The monument is covered in dimpled glass to symbolise freedom’s fragile nature. It is a sharp contrast to the dark days and the repression of Soviet rule.  Here the Estonian flag is proudly flown and people can gather for peaceful purposes.

Freedom Square

 
Freedom Square

The square is bounded on one side by a huge cubist monument of a building which was  constructed by an Estonian building society in 1934.

communist building

 

 

Kalev Chocolate


Took a bag full of mini bags of Estonian chocolate back to England with me on Friday to dish out at work. It’s been hard to part with them because they are so yummy. They have been much appreciated though. The bar is called “Legend of Tallinn” and someone asked me what it meant. I will have to Google it.

The Revival of Tallinn


I continued my stroll around the newly revived part of Tallinn and was delighted to find myself in what is a newly restored part of town. No longer is the journey to the port blighted by the sight of abandoned and semi-demolished buildings interspersed with the odd Soviet era block hotel. All is now shiny new and very lively.

Like the Koch’s Barn redevlopment just outside terminal D this newly revitalised section of town uses old buildings and stone for new exciting purposes.

One of the liveliest places to visit in Tallinn is the Rotermann Quarter which is a collection of buildings old and new in the industrial district between the port and Viru valjak. Walk across from the Sokos Hotel Viru on Mere pst and you come to the complex.

The area was once part of an industrial complex which began in the 1800s producing food products and alcohol. The district belonged to the Rotermann industrial family, started by Christian Abraham Rotermann in 1829.The factories were nationalised in the 1940s and were used by various industrial companies into the 1980s.

Redevelopment took over at the start of the current century and the area has been developed into workshops, residential housing, restaurants, bars and shops. In the summer months you can visit the Museum of Soviet Life, which is a collection of domestic artefacts and consumer products from the Soviet era.

rotermanni-kvartet

The Rotermann Quarter

rotermanni-kvartet-detail

The Rotermann Quarter and pubs

The Coca Cola Plaza

The Coca Cola Plaza

In the complex there is also the Architecture Museum, which is housed in the former Salt Storage Warehouse on Ahtri 2. The building was built by Christian Barthold Rotermann in 1908, and as such is a heritage building in its own right.

Just a hundred metres down the road is the Church of SS Simeon and Anne, a very pretty wooden church belonging to the Estonian Orthodox congregation. It was renovated in 2001 after having been used as a sports hall during the Soviet era. The building has some very nice wood designs and an interesting tower. To get to the church you need to negotiate a rather busy bit of ring road which goes out towards Kalamaja.

Church

The Church of SS Simeon and Anne

Linnahall, Tallinn


Linnahall, Tallinn, is situated just beyond the tower of Fat Margaret  on the opposite side of a very busy road. Take a tram 1 or 2 from the Viru Hotell or a bus 3 and get off at Linnahall. Cross the road and walk down a dodgy looking road at the side of an old factory bearing the sign RESTORAN on the roof.

You will see before you the Gulf of Finland, some blokes fishing for something and the Lindaline ferry terminal.  Walk towards the sea. To the left you will see Patarei Prison and to the right a concrete bunker.

The concrete bunker is now a dilapidated and deserted concrete monstrosity. It was built for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, believe it or not. This was before there was an openness towards the West or Perestroika, so the whole thing was built without windows. If you look at it you will see that it is solid concrete. It was used for sailing events during the games and then was an entertainment and cultural centre.

The former V. I.Lenin  Cultural Centre once housed an ice-rink, a 4200 seat performance hall and several cafes. It was taken over by an American firm but has not been used since 2009. It is now a graffiti covered concrete ruin.

According to an architectural website the building work was rushed so it is not in very good condition and this would hamper rebuilding plans. The future of the building is uncertain since demolition and the building of a new cultural centre would be extremely expensive. The building is a recognised cultural monument due being a typical example of Soviet design and building work of the 1980s.

For anyone living in a town or city in England blighted by the same planning theory it should be a familiar looking sight:

Linnahall

Lovely, isn’t it?

Linnahall from side