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New Creative Territories

During the Soviet era, several industrial monsters—Mikhail Kalinin Electromechanical Factory, the Tallinn Electric Station, and the City Heating Energy Supply Center—were erected like rough, ugly gray fists alongside 1920s-30s wooden houses of the old “sea wolf” village Kalamaja. Today these buildings have acquired a new breath, as Kalamaja has become the favorite place for artists and other creative people to realize their original ideas.

The former Kalinin Factory complex has acquired the name Telliskivi Loomelinnak and become an artists’ studio and cultural and recreational center, which actively collaborates with other creative industries in Europe. If you happen to find yourself here, definitely have lunch in Building F, or F-Hoone, where a restaurant of the same name has recently been established. The restaurant not only has a fantastic kitchen, but also a unique colorfulness formed by the bohemian, artistic public who frequent the restaurant. The atmosphere is enhanced by the historical background: the authenticity of this Soviet-era industrial manufacturing space is perfectly played out in the interior.

The second stopping point in the seaside territory is the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (CAME), which began to take shape when, in 2007, an impatient group of artists turned against the blindness and deafness of state institutions and “took over” the top floors of the abandoned Tallinn Heating Supply Building. At the time, it turned out that, paradoxically, there wasn’t even any heat in the space above the old boiler room. Extensive reconstruction work is currently taking place at the building, which will be completed by 2015, when the complex will be reborn as the extensive cultural center Kultuurikatel, or “Culture Kettle.”

The culture park Patarei should also be mentioned among the list of off-the-beaten-path alternative culture paths in Kalamaja. From 1919 to 2004 this was home to a jail—possibly one of the most dramatic Soviet-era prisons in the entire world. The damp, rotten, cobweb-covered walls—soaked with fate and broken destinies—have been preserved almost untouched. Here you’ll find both the centuries-old and relatively recent handwritten marks of the fated. When the jail was abandoned in the last decade, the discussion was raised in Tallinn about handing over the building to the Estonian Art Academy, yet this project was never actualized. But since 2007 the Patarei Prison has served as a culture park, offering visitors tours of the four-hectare space of the seaside fortress built during the Nicholas I era and a glimpse into the harsh realities of the prison cells, as well as the chance to check out the Estonian alternative culture scene. The Patarei Culture Park regularly organizes creative workshops, exhibits, concerts, and alternative parties.