KGB Museum Tallinn

This Museum in the Viru Hotel is World-Famous

The KGB Museum in the Viru Hotel in Tallinn is a glimpse into the past of the former Soviet Union. This world-famous hotel housed foreign guests who came to visit during the Cold War. Estonia was then the most western part of the Soviet Union. Guests were eavesdropped on, photographed and watched. The KGB collected all information on the 23rd floor. Today, it's an intriguing museum that you can visit via a guided tour. Below you'll find all information on the attractions of the KGB Museum in Tallinn.

The Viru Hotel is located in the middle of the city of Tallinn. It is still a hotel where you can stay overnight. You have nothing to worry about, many things have been altered. This does not apply to the top floor, where you can see how the Cold War was fought. Western guests were warmly received but were actually the enemy.

What Does the Excursion Look Like?

The guide shows numerous photos of what happened in the hotel. ©Corno van den Berg

The tour is conducted by a local guide. This is done in English, although other languages are also available. You go via the lift to the top floor, which was not previously accessible to the public. In the various rooms, the guide explains how the secret service of the Soviet Union operated. It was both sophisticated and deliberately inept.

The old computers that were used are still in place. ©Corno van den Berg

You gain a lot of information, particularly about the work they performed, which is very interesting. In addition, you see all kinds of documents, their equipment, as well as the officers' clothing. There are also many photos from that period, so you get a good impression of the atmosphere. The tour lasts about an hour, but it flew by, I noticed. It is remarkable to see how things were back then, while knowing that this is partly the case in Russia again now.

The Fear Terror of the KGB

What's remarkable is that most guests knew they were being spied on. Therefore, many guests would turn the radio up when they wanted to talk to each other. That was the intention, the KGB wanted you to be scared. After all, if you were scared, you wouldn't do anything outlandish. Just think about it.

Some Special Features of the Hotel

Numerous Cold War attributes are on display. ©Corno van den Berg

1. Everything was monitored in a subset of rooms. These rooms were allocated to the most important visitors. The spying was done with equipment that was state-of-the-art at the time. Think of telephones in the room that were wiretapped, but also listening devices in the wall and vases for example. In addition, there were special cameras that could take photos through a small hole in the wall.

2. In the hotel, the guests were given every luxury, making it seem as if things were going very well in the Soviet Union. There was entertainment every evening, during which everything was closely monitored. For instance, there were ashtrays with eavesdropping devices on the table. If you moved them away, because you didn't smoke for example, they would be replaced time and time again. With the waiter whispering to you, "This is really necessary".

3. The local population was not allowed to visit the hotel. Old army officers stood at the door. They knew a large part of the city's residents. The reason the local population couldn't enter was the luxury. This was something most residents would never see, and envy shouldn't arise. Or even show an interest in capitalism.

4. The staff were not allowed to talk to the guests, for fear that the KGB had that they would fall for the pleasures of the visitors' lives.

5. In every corridor of a hotel, there was someone noting every move of the guests. So, for example, what time you left the room and when you returned.

6. There was no unemployment in the Soviet Union. At its peak, about 1,000 people worked for the KGB in the hotel.

An impression of the hotel during the Cold War. ©Corno van den Berg

What Can You See?

There are still official phones that were used for consultation with the headquarters. You also see some eavesdropping devices, uniforms worn by the officers and lots of papers where everything was recorded. The radio room is the showpiece of the museum. You can still feel the grim atmosphere, even now all the dark plates in front of the windows have disappeared. No one was allowed to know that the KGB was around. Even though it was a public secret, to keep the population fearful. When the Cold War ended in 1989, the Russians left the country in a hurry. And left much of their equipment behind.

The View over the City

The view from the top floor with the iconic letters on the left that can be seen everywhere in the city. ©Corno van den Berg

On both sides of the former KGB offices, you have a viewpoint of the city. From where you can also see photos of what it looked like in the eighties. It must have been a different world to think that you had the population under control.

Accommodation in Tallinn

The city is very suitable for a city break. I walked around for several days and stayed in wonderful hotels. They were mainly small hotels, but there are also cheap hostels and fully equipped apartments. You can book these well online. Just make sure you're on time so you still have a lot of choices. Moreover, you often also get a lower price.

Book Your Spot

You can sign up in the hotel lobby, but there is a chance that it may be full. You can also book via the internet, ensuring you have a guaranteed spot.

Book online at: Viru Hotel

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