Kalamaja, which got its name from the fishing port a long time ago, is a quiet area known for old-fashioned, colorful, working class houses. From the 14th century, fishermen, fish merchants and boat builders lived in Kalamaja.
Houses with symmetrical wooden wings and stone stairs in the middle, built for the workers in the 1920's and 1930's became Kalamaja's heritage. There are about 500 of them in Tallinn.
A big part of the old industrial infrastructure still exists. There are the Estonian Piano Factory at Kungla 41, which is one of the world's best piano manufacturers, and a mall in the old military factory Arsenal, which is modern but reminiscent of old times.
A good way to experience the phenomenon of Kalamaja is to visit Telliskivi Loomelinnak (Telleskivi Street 60 a). Here the old factory buildings transform into a popular meeting place. It's the place for those who enjoy quaint restaurants, art exhibits, flea markets, alternative theater and club visits.
In the Creative City, you will find a unique choice of shops. They offer design and natural products, various cafés and restaurants and different services.
In the halls and yards of Telliskivi, over 400 cultural events take place in a year. Each Saturday, they host a flea market. The Creative City is also a home to Vaba Lava Theater and Sõltumatu Tantsu Lava.
Visit Lennusadam (Seaplane Harbor) Tallinn
The unforgettable Seaplane Harbor is home to a super-modern maritime and military museum, complete with historic ships to tour.
Located in Tallinn's famed, wooden-house district of Kalamaja, the harbour is best known for its unique Seaplane Hangars. Built in 1916 and 1917, as a part of Peter the Great sea fortress, these hangars are the world’s first reinforced concrete shell structures of such a great size. Charles Lindbergh, the man who performed the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, landed here in the 1930's.
Now the vast hangars house an extensive, high-tech museum telling exciting stories of Estonia's maritime and military history. It promises a 'sea full of excitement' for the whole family. The museum has more than 200 large exhibits in an area equal to 2 million A4 paper sheets laid down side by side.
The British-built Lembit submarine, weighing 600 tonnes, is the centrepiece of the museum. Built in 1936 for the Estonian navy, Lembit served in World War II under the Soviet flag. It remained in service for 75 years and was the oldest submarine in the world still in use until hauled ashore in 2011. Despite its long history, Lembit is still in excellent condition. Climbing inside offers an interesting glimpse of 1930's technology.
Another exciting attraction is a full-scale replica of a Short Type 184. This is a British pre-World War II seaplane that was also used by the Estonian armed forces. The Short Type 184 earned its place in military history by being the first plane ever to attack an enemy’s ship with an air-launched torpedo. None of the originals have survived. The replica in the Seaplane Harbour is the only full-size representation of the plane in the world.
The museum's simulators offer more excitement for adults and kids alike. They mimic a flight above Tallinn, an around-the-world journey in a yellow submarine and navigating on Tallinn Bay.
In the museum's outdoor area, visitors can tour a historic ships collection, including the Suur Tõll, Europe's largest steam-powered icebreaker.
Visit A Public Sauna
Like their Finnish neighbors, Estonians love going to saunas, particularly during the coldest months of the year. Aside from heating up the body and improving blood circulation, saunas are good places for socializing. Many private homes have their own saunas, as do some apartment buildings. But public saunas have a different vibe, and the oldest one in Tallinn – the Kalma Saun – is definitely one of a kind. It dates back to 1928.
Kalma Saun’s Art Deco facade looks more like a Soviet institution than a sauna. But the interior is much more comforting and filled with the ambiance that only a historic public bath could have. The men’s section is the only public sauna in Tallinn to use the traditional method of wood heating. During the wintertime, about two cords of wood are used daily. That amount drops by 50% in the summer. A bit less than 1,000 cords are burnt over the course of a year.
Plenty of Water
The women’s section used electrical heating. It's hot in the wood-heated sauna, and it's recommended to rent or bring your own sauna hat for comfort. As one visitor said: “Everyone wears them, and of course, nothing else!” But if you're a bit shy, you're always welcome to enjoy the sauna wrapped in a towel, which you receive at the reception along with a plastic mat and a birch switch for whipping yourself to improve your circulation.
To wash off their daily troubles, visitors use about 15-18 tons of water per day at the Kalma Saun. Prices are rather low compared with the fancier spas in town. Visitors can engage with other sauna guests, or enjoy the heat followed by a cold beer on their own. While the Kalma Saun is not a fancy spa with a Jacuzzi and other extras, the authentic locale gives you the chance to warm up your tired body, massage your skin with birch switches, cool off in a shower and pool, and relax with post-sauna refreshments in a historical environment.