KGB Museum – Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn’s impressive collection of museums and fortifications might make your head spin. There’s not nearly enough time on a weekend trip to Tallinn to see it all. You’ve got to prioritize the types of activities that interest you.
The KGB Museum should be near the top of your list in Tallinn. It’s unassuming. It’s just a couple of rooms on the 23rd floor of a ‘normal’ hotel, the Sokos Hotel Viru.
The rooms are laid out just as the KGB left them in a rush two and a half decades ago.
Telephones are smashed, papers are strewn around the rooms and a few uniforms are still hung on the wall.
The Viru Hotel (now Sokos Viru) was a magnificent 1970s hotel (recently renovated) that served a fair share of foreign clientele. For more than one reason, the KGB set up shop on the top floor of the hotel.
Communications across the Gulf of Finland to Helsinki were conducted, but hotel surveillance was also on the agenda. Rooms were bugged and cameras were installed.
The full story of the on-goings at the Viru Hotel are fascinating and most certainly worth an hour on your Tallinn visit.
The KGB Museum operates only through pre-booked tours. English tours are offered several times per day. The tour lasts nearly an hour, during which you get to see the KGB rooms on the hotel’s 23rd floor.
You also get to wander onto the hotel’s terrace, which has amazing views of the water and Old Town Tallinn. Discounts are available for guests of the hotel, but the museum does not accept the Tallinn Card.
Those with interest in Cold War history or with spy paraphernalia will love this museum. The tour guides let you peer through a spy camera designed to look through a hole in a hotel room wall. You can hold artifacts from the KGB. You’ll even get the chills peeking into the history of the place.
Older kids will get a kick out of the story. Younger kids would be bored and would detract from the experience. If you’re staying at the Sokos Viru, this museum is a slam-dunk. It’s an easy sight to see. If you’re staying in Old Town Tallinn, it’s only a 5-10 minute walk to the hotel through an original city gate. Either way, give the KGB Museum a look.
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