Linnahall – Tallinn, Estonia - Atlas Obscura

Tallinn, Estonia


An empty relic of the Moscow Olympics crumbles away in the middle of Estonia. 

Built to accommodate the Moscow Summer Olympics in 1980, Estonia’s Linnahall now stands as an imposing concrete ghost town. 

The massive, 5,000 seat amphitheater was commissioned by the Soviet Union to show the world their mastery over concrete-pouring. While the squat cement building certainly showed the world that such a feat was possible, Estonia could not fill the thousands of seats after the Olympic crowds returned home.

The hurried construction of the building has begun to show over the past 20 years as the poorly finished rock crumbles under the stresses of time. The arena is still used from time to time when a large enough event comes to the country, but generally, the huge structure sits empty. Locals and tourists still enjoy taking the external steps up to the roof of the hall, which provides a rather stunning view of the surrounding city.

As many important buildings in the Soviet Union, the design of Linnahall was planned to be also useful during wartime. The location by the sea and the flat roofs made it a perfect spot for tanks or cannons to cover the whole bay of Tallinn, in case the “evil” Finns would want to conquer the city.

Update August 2019: Access to the building interior is now blocked by a fence, erected either as part of ongoing construction or due to safety concerns. One set of stairs over and above the building is still open on both sides.

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