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Photo by: Kadi-Liis Koppel

Photo by: Paul Kuimet

Photo by: Kadi-Liis Koppel

Photo by: Mart Laul / Särev Theatre Room

Photo by: Under and Tuglas Literature Centre / Gabriela Liivamägi

Tallinn’s top 5 house museums

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By Jae Jensen  •  12.08.2019

At these historic house museums, you’ll get an intimate look into the lives of Estonia’s greatest writers, actors, poets and statesmen. With the exception of Tsar Peter the Great, they were active on the Estonian cultural landscape during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In fact, many of them were friends (and even admirers). 

These properties are so well preserved that they’re used for filming historical movies and TV shows. So, fans of design and architecture – prepare to be fascinated! Entrance to the homes of Tammsaare, Vilde, Peter the Great and General Laidoner (The Estonian War Museum) is also free with the Tallinn Card.

Tammsaare’s House

Anton Hansen Tammsaare (1878-1940) is one of Estonia’s most beloved national authors. His five-room apartment in a wooden house in Kadriorg has remained relatively untouched since he and his family lived there. You can visit his study and see samples of his handwriting, ring the original mechanical doorbell and sip coffee on his sun-drenched veranda. Visit the exhibit across the hall to go behind the scenes of the 2019 film adaptation of Tammsaare’s novel Truth and Justice (Tõde ja õigus) and browse the bookstore downstairs.  

Tammsaare's House, L. Koidula 12a. Free with Tallinn Card. 

Eduard Vilde Museum

Just 500 metres from Tammsaare’s home stands writer and diplomat Eduard Vilde’s (1865-1933) house, near Kadriorg Palace. The government gifted a portion of the former Castellan House to Vilde in 1927. His living room hosted Tammsaare, Andres Särev, Marie Under, Friedebert Tuglas and other great writers of his time. You can visit Vilde’s study, antique kitchen, bedroom and more and experience aspects of old-fashioned life like hand-grinding coffee beans and writing with a quill dipped in ink. 

Vilde's House, Roheline aas 3. Free with Tallinn Card. 

House of Peter the Great

Opened for visitors in 1806, this modest house is the oldest museum in Tallinn. Peter the Great (1672-1725), Tzar of Russia, chose to build his summer home in Tallinn due to its importance as a naval port in the early 1700s. While his grand palace, Kadriorg, was being constructed, Peter stayed in a small building nearby. After the completion of the palace, his first house fell into disrepair until Peter’s great-great-grandson ordered that it be restored and turned into a museum. Nowadays, it displays artefacts and baroque furnishings which offer a glimpse into the early days of Kadriorg. 

House of Peter the Great, Mäekalda 2. Free with Tallinn Card. 

Särev Theatre Room

This 1920s apartment was home to actor, director and playwright Andres Särev (1902-1970). Särev’s apartment isn’t far from where his friends Tammsaare and Vilde resided. Särev was the first to adapt Tammsaare’s classic book Truth and Justice for the stage. After Andres’ death, his wife turned their home into a museum in 1982. You can now visit Särev’s study, sitting room, a kids’ costume room and the kitchen-turned-workshop. The museum is open by appointment only, so call or email at least two days in advance for a personal, guided tour. 

Särev Theatre Room, Tina 23-13. Information and booking: tellimus@ajaloomuuseum.ee, +372 5560 5730. 

Under and Tuglas Literature Centre

This unique museum bears two names and two architectural styles. The first writer to live there was Marie Under, (1883-1980) one of Estonia’s best-known and Nobel prize-nominated poets. Under wrote about romance and nature as well as politics and her homeland. The original quaint, wooden house was built in 1933. At the beginning of the Soviet occupation of Estonia, Under’s family fled to Sweden, after which her Nõmme home was left to friend and fellow writer Friedebert Tuglas. In 1976, after Tuglas’ death, the house was turned into a museum, and a Soviet-style extension was added. The centre is open by appointment only on weekdays, so call or email at least a few days in advance to arrange a tour. 

Under and Tuglas Literature Centre, Väikese Illimari 12. Information and booking: muuseum@utkk.ee, +372 672 2847. 

Bonus:

The Estonian War Museum in Viimsi was also the summer home of General Johan Laidoner (1884-1953). Laidoner was gifted the villa for his role as Commander in Chief of the Estonian Armed Forces during the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920) and continued statesmanship thereafter. Most of the villa is used for military exhibitions, while upstairs, his study is left intact and a room is dedicated to his many awards and medals. 

The Estonian War Museum, Mõisa tee 1. Free with Tallinn Card.