Paldiski, its History, Lighthouse, and Screen Credits
Text Mark Taylor Photos Andrei Chertkov and Mikko Virta
If you ask any Estonian what they think of Paldiski, they will likely tell you that it is a bit off a Soviet-time ghost town. For some of you reading that, you will be wanting to go immediately and explore, and for others, you might be thinking what is there of interest for me to see.
For Swedish readers, the town of Paldiski might seem a little familiar. This is because it was the setting for the multi-award-winning 2002 movie Lilya 4-ever. And for Finnish readers especially, you may recognise the cliffs and lighthouse from the second season of the popular Finnish Netflix crime series Deadwind.
If you decide to venture on the 1-hour train ride from Tallinn (that costs a little over 3 euros each way). The town of Paldiski may seem a little underwhelming. A big port to your left (where you can also catch a ferry to Sweden) and a sea of soviet blocks stretching off into the distance.
During Soviet times, the city of Paldiski was a closed military town, meaning only those who lived and worked in the city could enter. At this time, the population of the city was around 16000. Today, this is a little over 3500 – hence why it is seen as a bit of a ghost town. In the so-called town centre, you will find a sleepy convenience store, a pub and a couple of other little shops. So it is possible to get a little snack while you explore.
If you are not interested in Soviet-time architecture, it is time to leave the town on the 3km walk (about 40 minutes) to the cliffs and lighthouse. As you leave the town, you will pass the ruins of a fortress built by Peter the Great in 1718 – that sadly today looks a bit like a disused quarry.
As you continue your walk, the Pakri lighthouse will come more and more into view. From the top of the lighthouse, you have a great view of the whole peninsula, back to Paldiski, along the coastline, as well as to the two islands in the bay, Suur-Pakri and Väike-Pakri – from which the lighthouse gets its name.
The lighthouse is open every day from 12-18 between 01.05-31.08, and on Saturdays and Sundays for the rest of the year. Entrance to the lighthouse is 5 euros for adults and 3 euros for children.
It is probably best to visit Paldiski by car – about a 1-hour drive from Tallinn. This way, it can be paired with a trip to Klooga concentration camp and/or Klooga beach (in summer months).
To start planning your trip…