Tallinn’s Seaplane Harbour is the Estonian Maritime Museum’s modern and impressive exhibition hall located within walking distance from Tallinn city centre near the old Patarei Prison, in the Kalamaja district. From the Town Hall Square
it takes approximately 20 minutes to walk there. The museum is constructed in old seaplane hangars, which were built at the beginning of 20th century in part of Peter the Great’s Naval Fortress which protected St. Petersburg. In fact, it was the first building in the world with a concrete shell structure. With well executed renovation, fascinating history, interesting lightning, sound effects, and exhibitions, this is definitely the most interesting museum in Tallinn, if not in the whole Estonia. The museum advertises itself as ‘one of the most exciting European maritime museums
‘! Well, at least it has won many awards, e.g. European Museum of the Year (EMYA) Award in 2014.
Access to this bridge only with a guide
The museum has sort of three levels or themes: in the air, on the sea and underwater. For example, the exhibition hall has airplanes, sea mines, cannons, anti-aircraft guns, sailing boats, and also the famous Estonian submarine Lembit is ‘parked’ there. The submarine was actually one of the most interesting attractions (and probably the most popular one based on the queue) and a visit to the inside makes you wonder how on earth Navy soldiers survived there for months without getting claustrophobic. Also, Lembit has an interesting history but you can learn all about it at the museum. The museum is truly informative, as there are in addition to traditional panels, interactive touchscreen displays all over the hall presenting the exhibits with written texts, video clips, photos, and illustrative animations. Moreover, if you happen to run out of time but want to learn more about something, you can just send the displays according to your interest to your personal email and read them later at home. Convenient, right!?
This is a family-friendly museum and received awards for it. For little visitors, or childlike bigger visitors, there are many activities: naval costumes from different decades and centuries, paper plane precision throwing competitions, naval battle, air-raid and flight simulators, big aquariums etc. The only disappointment we had was related to the ‘bridge’, which goes high up across the museum, as it is accessible only for guided groups. This bridge would’ve been perfect for seeing the whole museum and for taking photos. We’re not sure whether it is closed for visitors due to safety issues. Outside the exhibition hall, you’ll find many of Estonia’s historical ships at the harbour. However, the harbour is not only for museum ships, as there is a yacht club located right next to the museum. To learn more about the vessels and services, see their website.
Seaplane Harbour Before Renovation
October – April: Tue–Sun, 10 am–6 pm
May – September: Mon–Sun, 10 am–7 pm
You can purchase tickets 30 minutes before closing time.
On national holidays the museum is open from 10am to 5pm.
To learn more about the current or upcoming exhibitions, visit the Seaplane Harbour’s website