The Seaplane Harbour is located at 6 Vesilennuki Street, Kalamaja, Tallinn. One of the permanent exhibitions of the Estonian Maritime Museum is located in the Seaplane Hangar. It is surrounded by a diverse recreational area with a harbour, museum ships, and a playground. If you stand in front of the Seaplane Hangar, the sea will be located behind the hangar, on the north side of the area. On the right, i.e. the east side is the historic Patarei Prison, on the left, i.e. the west side is the port, and across the barren area is the Noblessner quarter.
The nearest public transport stop to the Seaplane Harbour, called ‘Lennusadam’, is located on Kalaranna Road, near the intersection with Vesilennuki Street. Bus number 73 stops there. The stops coming from and heading towards the City Centre are located fairly close together, on opposite sides of Vesilennuki Street. The distance between them is about 80 metres.
When coming by bus from the City Centre, you must first head 20 metres in the direction of the city to reach the museum. Follow the asphalted pavement until you reach an unregulated pedestrian crossing. This is marked with a tactile dotted safety marking. Cross the road. Turn left onto Vesilennuki Street and follow the pavement for about 60 metres. While walking, there will be a green area with a car park to your right and a road to your left. Do not turn right when the pavement turns. Proceed straight ahead and cross Vesilennuki Street again at the pedestrian crossing, only then turning right. Keep to the left edge of the road. Walk straight along the pavement. After about 15 metres, you will reach a pavement leading to the left. This pavement is almost five metres wide. This is the first of three pavements leading to the entrance to the Seaplane Harbour. Turn onto it, keep to the left side of the pavement. Be careful, because at the beginning of the pavement, there are stone anchors located in the middle of the road to block car traffic.
After about 30 metres, you will reach a turning point. There are two directions to choose from. By keeping to the left and then heading straight, you will reach the port area, where museum ships are on display, and which can be visited by purchasing a ticket. To visit the Seaplane Hangar, turn right, walk another 30 metres, and then turn left. In front of you is the entrance to the Seaplane Harbour. The left entrance to the Seaplane Harbour is located 20 metres from the corner of the building. The right entrance is the same distance from the right corner of the building. If you arrive by taxi, ask the taxi driver to stop at the middle pavement, which leads directly to the left door of the museum. The distance from the edge of the road to there is about 40 metres. Again, be careful, as there may also be signs restricting car traffic on this road. If you want to sit before visiting the museum, benches are located along the right side of the road.
If you arrive by car, for example, with a companion, you can park your car for free in the marked car park. The car park is located across the street from the Seaplane Harbour. The second marked car park is on the right side of the Seaplane Hangar. Disabled parking spaces are located in this car park on the side of the hangar.
A total of 90% of the museum area is accessible by wheelchair. However, there is no access to the submarine Lembit and some of the cannons. There are two lifts in the museum to help you move between the two floors: located opposite the stairs to the right of the front desk and in the museum area, opposite the submarine Lembit.
It is recommended that you enter with a wheelchair via the right door of the front facade. To the right of this door is a button with a wheelchair symbol, which, when pressed, automatically opens both sides of the door outwards. A lavatory for disabled persons is located on the ground floor of the museum.
The museum’s regular opening hours are 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Mon.–Sun. from May to September, and 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tue.–Sun. from October to April.
The front desk’s phone number is +372 620 0545.
The Seaplane Hangar at Tallinn Seaplane Harbour is considered one of the most important technical buildings ever built in Estonia. It is one of the few buildings dating from the twentieth century that deserves international attention and a place in the history of world architecture. The Tallinn Seaplane Hangar was built in 1916–1917, as part of Peter the Great’s naval fortress. Unfortunately, the construction of the hangar was not completed as planned due to World War I and the events surrounding the 1917 revolution in Russia. The unfinished building was put into operation in 1918 by the Germans, to the degree permitted by the resources available at the time.
The Seaplane Hangar is unique in terms of both its size and the construction technology employed. It is the first large-scale reinforced columnless concrete dome structure in the world. The lack of internal columns was essential to allow for seaplanes to be turned around inside the hangar. The hangar was designed by the Danish engineering firm Christiani & Nielsen.
During the time of the Republic of Estonia in 1918–1940, the building was used by the Estonian Air Force, and by the Navy during the Soviet occupation. In May 2012, the Estonian Maritime Museum opened a museum in the Seaplane Hangar of the Seaplane Harbour.
The massive dark and grey building, which in some historical documents is modestly referred to as a three-part reinforced concrete shed, has a rectangular ground plan; it measures 48 × 121 metres. The building has four towers – one tower rises in each corner. The roof of the building could even be called picturesque. The central part of the roof is covered by three relatively flat domes. The longitudinally bisected cylindrical roof sections extend outward from the domes, extending to the outer wall to form the rest of the roof. The height of the building, measured from the top of the dome, is 25 metres. At the top of the dark-coloured roof domes are 12-sided lanterns, highlighted by small square windows with wooden frames. Located on top of the lantern of each dome is a plane-shaped weather vane attached to a rod.
The building and its facades are symmetrical. The front facade of the building is located on the shorter south side of the hangar. It is 48 metres wide. Most of the front facade is covered by an airy glass wall articulated with concrete columns and a café terrace on the first floor. Grey towers are located in the corners of the facade. In the middle of the front facade are two entrances that are symmetrical in relation to the centre of the building.
Two-storey towers are located in both corners at the front of the building. Between the two floors and at the top of the tower is a horizontal concrete beam that partially extends from the wall. Similar, but vertical columns also border the corners of the towers, forming a truss of sorts. The wall between the concrete structure is made of oil shale ash blocks. In the middle of both floors of the towers are rectangular windows with small square panes and wooden frames. There is a balcony at the top of the towers. The metal borders of the balconies alternate with stronger and slightly taller concrete columns.
The glass section of the facade between the towers is in line with the towers. The glass section is the height of the ground floor of the tower and is articulated with four concrete support columns. The outdoor terrace of the museum café with its wooden balustrade is located above the glass facade. The back wall of the terrace is also a wide glass wall, bounded at the top by the curved line of the roof and articulated with concrete columns and one horizontal beam. Concrete columns projecting vertically from the glass surface divide the lower part of the wall into five large glass windows. Above the horizontal beam, the concrete columns divide the glass wall into thirteen parts, which, in turn, are divided into small square glass windows with the help of frames.
The left and right side facades of the building are 121 metres in width. Located at the ends of both side facades are the corner towers of the building. There are no windows on the side facades of the corner towers. The rectangular part of the building between the towers is the same height as the towers and is in line with them.
Even so, the side facades are not identical. The part of the wall between the towers on the left side, i.e. the west side of the hangar is covered by a sectional door with a dark gray metal construction. The surface of the door is covered by a rhomboid pattern. Behind the sectional door is a glass wall equal in height to the towers. In most cases, the sectional door remains closed, which adds a sense of massiveness and militarism to the appearance of the building. When the sectional door is raised, a triangular awning appears on the west side of the hangar. The lower edge of the triangular roof is slightly inclined and facing upwards. The section located in between the corner towers is covered by three large identical concrete semicircles – the semi-cylindrical parts of the roof. A dome rises behind each semi-cylindrical shape. The concrete section located under the arch of the cylinder is partially articulated by vertical support columns projecting out of the wall.
The right side of the building, i.e. the east side, is mainly made of concrete and is articulated by concrete support columns. These columns also extend partially outward from the facade. There are 19 columns in total. At the height of the ground and first floors of the towers is a horizontal concrete load-bearing beam extending partially from the wall along the entire length of the facade. There are six wooden grey double doors, equidistant from each other, on the right side of the building. They are intended for museum staff. Also on this side, the section between the corner towers is covered by three large semicircles of the same size, although the arches below the cylinder are made of glass. The glass surface is articulated by concrete columns and the surface between them is divided by frames into windows with small panes.
The back of the building faces the sea. In both corners of the back facade are the same type of towers as found in the front facade, with windows located between the floors of the towers. Similar to the left side of the building, the area between the towers is covered by a dark grey sectional door, and above it, along the entire length of the side section between the towers, is a semi-cylindrical shaped end arch. The wall behind the sectional door is made of glass.
In the middle of the front of the museum are two entrances located about three metres apart. The left entrance to the Seaplane Harbour is located 20 metres from the corner of the building. The right door is also located 20 metres from the right corner. You can enter from either door, but the following description is based on the left entrance. Use the entrance on the right to enter with a wheelchair. The entrances have double-sided glass doors, with the door on the right opening. If the door is closed, pull the right door of the entrance outwards, using the vertical door handle. Pull gently, then the door will open by itself. The entrance is followed by an approximately 3.5-metre foyer, the floor of which is covered with doormats. Proceed straight ahead. After passing through the foyer, you will reach interior glass doors equipped with a motion sensor. Passing through them, you will have reached the front desk area.
The entire front desk area is furnished in blue tones, with its back wall decorated with one of the largest aquariums in Estonia. Two-dimensional black boat-shaped tiles of different sizes are attached to the ceiling.
In the middle of the front desk area, more or less directly opposite the entrances, is a large circular front desk that is slightly higher than hip height. Behind the front desk and to the right of it is the aquarium wall, to the right from there is a lift and a staircase to the exhibition and the café, and at the end of the front desk area is a wardrobe. To the left of the front desk is the exit from the exhibition area, onward from there are the lavatories, another staircase to the café, and to the left, directly beside the entrances, is the museum shop.
Built at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Seaplane Hangar houses one of the Estonian Maritime Museum’s two permanent exhibitions. It is one of the most magnificent maritime museums in Northern Europe. Located outdoors is the century-old steamer-icebreaker Suur Tõll. Inside the hangar are the submarine Lembit, boats and sailboats, a copy of the Short Type 184 seaplane, mines, cannons, and many other life-size exhibits. A trip around the world on the Yellow Submarine, taking photos in navy uniforms, a large aquarium, and simulators will make your visit to the Seaplane Harbour a memorable experience for the whole family.
The Seaplane Harbour’s permanent exhibition is divided into three different levels: underwater, water level, and air level. A visitor walking on the bridge, or the first floor, will see all of the exhibits just as if they were appearing on the surface of the water or on the sea shore. This is also the starting point for the visit to the exhibition.
As the Seaplane Harbour’s permanent exhibition does not yet have a descriptive translation or a sign language translation, we recommend that you visit the permanent exhibition together with a companion.
Located on the ground floor are: the front desk area, the museum shop, lavatories, an unguarded wardrobe and lockers, and the ‘Underwater World’ in the exhibition area.
Located on the first floor are: the café, the start of the exhibition and the ‘World Above Water’ in the exhibition area.
Temporary exhibition areas
New temporary exhibition “Venezia – Queen of the Seas” will opening soon.
The temporary exhibition The Vikings before the Vikings at the Seaplane Harbour is adjusted for people with visual or hearing impairments and can be visited in a wheelchair. The texts are in a simple language.
The exhibition The Vikings before the Vikings remains open from 16 February 2023 to 7 January 2024 and can be found in the small exhibition hall on the ground floor of the Seaplane Harbour.
Around 1,300 years ago, a bloody battle took place near what is now the village of Salme in Saaremaa, after which the fallen Scandinavian warriors were buried in two ships on the seashore. The discovery of these ships in 2008 has provided a wealth of new and important information about the early Viking Age. However, the Salme ships themselves are an important source of the history of shipbuilding in the Baltic Sea region. The larger Salme ship is the oldest sailing ship found in the Baltic Sea region, dating from around 700–750.
The exhibition features 150 original finds that were given to Viking warriors as grave offerings, giving us an idea of their life – the origins of the men who belonged to the same war party, the ships they sailed on, the equipment they took with them, and the way they fought and buried their dead while on raid away from home. A 1 : 10 scale model of the larger Salme ship is also on display. A four-minute animation based on research and a reconstruction of the Salme landscape from 1,300 years ago will be shown on the big screen as one possible interpretation of the battle that took place in Salme.
If you intend to visit the exhibition through the permanent exhibition, you will have to move to the end of the floor by the second floor bridge, go downstairs, move one more metre, turn left, move approximately three meters, and you will reach the tactile guiding path which signals the beginning of the exhibition.
Visually impaired visitors are assisted by the guiding path and get to touch the clinker planking characteristic to a Viking ship, as well as copies of the finds or items which have been made inspired by the finds – a ring sword, a game piece, the Hnefatafl board game, a comb, and jewellery. A relief model of the Salme II ship with the upper layer of the ship burial can also be felt.
The layout of the exhibition is also suitable for wheelchair use.
After having entered the museum via the left door and reaching the front desk area, move to the end of the doormats and from there, another three metres towards your one o’clock, until you reach the front desk area, where you can buy a ticket.
If you are visiting the permanent exhibition or going to temporary exhibitions through the permanent exhibition, be sure to keep your ticket. To access the exhibition area, the ticket must be scanned on the first floor at the beginning of the permanent exhibition. An embossed sticker is attached to the ticket barcode at the front desk.
The first floor – where the permanent exhibition starts and the museum café can be found – can be accessed via lift or stairs. They are located opposite each other, about five metres apart.
The lift at the museum entrance is located between two and three o’clock, to the right of the front desk. Turn around at the front desk, take a few steps, turn so that the front desk is located to your left and the glass front wall is to the right, and walk about seven metres until the wall to your left ends. Then turn left, move another two metres until you reach the doormats. Turn left again. The lift will be right in front of you. The lift call button is located to the left of the lift, at a height of approximately one metre.
When entering the lift, the buttons remain to your right, at hip height. The buttons are marked in a tactile manner, the middle vertical row from top to bottom: 2, 1 and ‘close doors’. Next to the ‘close doors’ button are two additional buttons on the left and right – ‘doors open’ and ‘alarm’. There is no voice announcement in the lift. On the first floor, exit the lift, turn left, and walk about five metres. You will reach the security gate on the left-hand side, where the entrance to the permanent exhibition is located.
If you would like to take the stairs, proceed from the front desk towards the lift and turn so that you are facing away from the lift. The stairs are in front of you. Move straight for about five metres. In front of you is a wide staircase that leads to the first floor of the museum. There is a handrail on both sides of the stairs; keep to the left. Walk up 18 steps and you will reach the landing, where the stairs turn to the left. Remain to the left and turn along with the stairs. Climb up another 18 steps. You will reach the first floor. The café area is located directly in front of you, at a distance of approximately six metres. The entrance to the permanent exhibition is at your two o’clock. The distance from the stairs is approximately six metres. The beginning of the exhibition is indicated by the security gate.
Once you have reached the beginning of the exhibition area on the first floor, you must scan your ticket to enter the exhibition. The scanner is located to your right at a height of approximately one metre. Find the embossed sticker placed next to the barcode on the ticket by the cashier. Place the ticket on the security post with the marked part facing up. The ticket is scanned by the part of the security gate above the post. A successful scan is indicated by a beeping sound; in addition, you will hear the glass gates open. The gates open in the direction of movement and you must enter through the gate one at a time.
In the first-floor exhibition hall, people move along the bridge, which ascends and descends smoothly. Knee-high benches are located by the railing on the left-hand side of the bridge, which is why you should keep to the railing on the right-hind side of the bridge when moving. Care must also be taken when moving along the right-hand side, as there are information boards and interactive screens located by the railings on both sides, at a height of about one to one point five metres, with tall cabinets about 20 cm wide located in the middle of the bridge. Visitors exploring the museum may also be standing quietly on the bridges.
Proceed straight for about 40 metres, until the bridge makes a small right turn. Continue moving along the edge of the railing for another 40 metres, until the bridge turns right. Move another three metres, keeping to the right-hand railing. Then, switch sides and keep to the left. Be careful, because this part of the bridge also has benches at knee height. Move straight for about 25 metres, until the bridge turns right. Turn too. However, if you happen to be moving on the right-hand side of this section of the bridge, be careful in the middle of the bridge, because here, the second bridge running low above the bridge extends to this bridge.
If you remain on the bridge and walk straight ahead, the nearly 60-metre submarine Lembit will be on your right. The entrance to the ship is about 30 metres to the right of the turning point. Proceeding about 25 metres straight ahead from the submarine entrance, you will reach the staircase that ends the aforementioned bridge, which leads down to the ground floor. Be careful before reaching the stairs, because in the middle of the bridge, there is a high cabinet 20 cm wide and a place to return the standard audio tour equipment. Approximately three metres before the stairs, immediately after the closet and the place for returning audio equipment, you can turn left to take the lift to the ground floor of the permanent exhibition hall. If you decide to do so, cross the short entrance bridge and once you reach the concrete floor, head towards your eleven o’clock. After two metres, you will reach the lift. The lift call button is on the left. If you decide in favour of the staircase, please note that its handrails end before the stairs do. The stairs have 18 steps and then a landing, followed by another 18 steps. When you reach the ground floor, the large ground floor exhibition area will be located behind you, with a large temporary exhibition area at the end. The small exhibition area is located at your ten o’clock and the exit from the museum is located at your two o’clock.
On the ground floor of the museum, at the right end of the front desk area is an unguarded wardrobe, with lockers located next to the lift and stairs. To move from the front door to the wardrobe area, proceed about 12 metres to your right. There, on the right hand side, is a counter diagonal to your direction of movement, where you can rest things, if necessary. Low round seats are located forward and to the right of the counter, towards the glass front wall of the hangar. Behind the counter and placed at different heights are boat-shaped coat racks on two legs. Be careful because their ends are sharp and they extend beyond the legs of the rack. There are two poles located along the side of left-hand wall, where both children and wheelchair users can comfortably hang their clothes.
To reach the storage lockers located behind the right side of the lift, turn at the wardrobe counter so that the glass front wall of the hangar is behind you and the wardrobe counter is to your right. Proceed about 11 metres straight ahead. Turn left, proceed straight ahead for about three metres. To your left are 14 large storage lockers – two rows on top of each other, seven lockers in each row. To use them, you need either a one-euro coin or a fifty-cent euro coin, which you will get back later. Key locks for the storage locker can be found on the right-hand side of the doors. The cabinets and keys both lack tactile numbers. The lift can be reached by backtracking from the lockers in the same way in which you came and then turning right. A second area containing lockers is located on the left side of the stairs.
Lavatories are located on the ground floor of the Seaplane Harbour, in the front desk area, and are located to the left of the entrances. When entering from the left-hand entrance, proceed to the end of the doormats, step another metre, and then turn left, then proceed about 11 metres until you reach the blue door of the women’s lavatory. Next to the women’s lavatory is the men’s lavatory and then the lavatory for disabled persons.
The women’s lavatory door opens outwards and to the right. The lavatory is rectangular and consists of two rooms. There is music playing and lights are on in the lavatory. Upon entering the door, there is a washbasin cabinet with three washbasins and a total of six mixer taps on the entire wall immediately to the left. Bins are located at the ends of the basin cabinet. The mixer taps work when you press the elevated round button on the floor with your foot. Soap dispensers are located between the mixer taps. Paper for drying hands is located to the right of the washbasins, on the end wall of the room; adjacent to it are two hand dryers with a drying gap. There are similar dryers on the wall opposite the washbasins, almost six metres from the door. There is a doorway in the same wall and almost as far away, which leads to the toilet stalls. Immediately upon entering the opening, there are six stalls on the opposite wall, the doors of which open outwards and to the left, and at your seven o’clock, there are two more stalls, the doors of which open outwards and to the right. The stalls are narrow, about 1 × 1.5 m. The toilet is right in front of you when you enter the stall, the toilet paper holder is on the left, and the toilet waste bin is located on the right-hand side wall, next to the door.
The men’s lavatory is located two metres beyond the women’s lavatory. Its door opens outwards and to the right. Like the women’s lavatory, it consists of two parts. Coming from the door, there is a washbasin cabinet with three washbasins and six mixer taps along the entire length of the left-hand wall. At the end wall, four metres from the door, is a hand dryer with a drying gap and hand drying paper. At the end wall, a second space opens to the left, which, in turn, is divided into two. There are three urinals on the left and access to the corner opposite the urinals, where there are two stalls on both the left and right. The doors of the stalls on the right open outwards and to the left. The stalls are narrow, about 1 x 1.5 m. When entering the stall, the toilet is directly in front of you, the toilet paper holder is on the left, and the waste bin is located on the right-hand side wall, next to the door. The doors of the stalls on the left open outwards and to the right and the position of the stall is mirrored with that of the opposite wall.
Located right next to the men’s lavatory is the blue door to the lavatory for disabled persons. If you pass by the lavatory for disabled persons, you will reach a recess with another staircase that leads directly to the café. The door of the lavatory for disabled persons opens outwards and to the right. The light switch is located on the wall, to the left. There is music playing in the lavatory. The lavatory for disabled persons is rectangular in shape and is about two point five metres wide and two metres deep. There is a toilet located about one metre from the door, at your ten o’clock. There is a chair to the left of the toilet. The toilet has an armrest on both sides. The toilet paper is located on the left-hand armrest, closest to the door. The washbasin is straight across from the door, about one point five metres away. The mixer taps are operated by a lever. The soap dispenser and hand-drying paper are located on the wall to the right of the washbasin. Next to them is a changing table. The waste bin is located on the floor, in the right-hand corner, near the washbasin. To the left of the washbasin is a hand dryer with a drying gap. Next to it is a toilet paper holder and a waste bin.
The museum shop is located in the front desk area, along the outer wall. It is to the left of the museum entrance. Move one metre forward from the doormats and then four metres to your left. If you decide to visit the shop after visiting the museum, the shop is located directly across from the exhibition area exit, after the sliding doors.
The store can be accessed through a wide and high doorway. There is a knee-high white furniture base in the doorway, on which there are mannequins. The shop is rectangular in shape, almost five metres deep and 10 metres wide. Bright display cabinets, shelves, and furniture racks are located throughout the room, both in the middle and along the walls. The front desk is located at your two o’clock from the door to the shop. The shop sells a wide range of goods, including popular souvenirs, such as magnets, pens, and postcards. In addition, the store has an extensive selection of maritime-themed literature. In addition to souvenirs and books, you can quickly grab some ice cream to cool you or a bottle of water.
The museum café is located on the first floor of the museum. It can be reached by stairs or the lift. When using the lift, turn left when exiting the lift, proceed for about two metres, then turn left, where the café area starts. When taking the stairs, the café area is located approximately six metres directly in front of the stairs. To reach the café counter, proceed straight for about 20 metres. As you move around the café area, there will be standard-height coffee tables and chairs with backrests located to your right and left. Standard-height coffee tables and chairs with backrests are also located on the other side of the café counter. The café counter, where the order is to be placed, is located to your left and turns right after a few metres. In the café, you can buy both hot and cold drinks, as well as cake and heartier hot food. Located on the same floor, the café terrace is also open during the summer season.
Exiting the exhibitions takes place through the hall on the ground
floor. The exit, which is equipped with a motion sensor and opens automatically, is located in the front of the hall, between your twelve o’clock and one o’clock.
A wide ramp with a steep slope leads you to the door. When exiting the doors, turn left. Walk about five metres until you reach the front desk. Standing at the front desk, face away from the aquarium and move straight until you reach the doormat. Continue walking, and you will reach the automatic doors, then the foyer, and after about three point five metres, the front door, which opens outwards. You are once again in front of the Seaplane Harbour. The official taxi stop is on the left, the bus stop is at your one o’clock.
The texts of the exhibition are easy to read – please pick up a booklet from the beginning of the exhibition. The texts in a simple language are understandable for an individual with a mild intellectual disability, as well as for children and those learning the Estonian language.
The easy-to-read texts of The Vikings before the Vikings exhibition were compiled in the cooperation of Janek Muru and Kerttu Rakke (Vaimupuu MTÜ) and Silvi Laidro (MTÜ Erivajadustega Inimeste Toetusühing Tugiliisu).
Lets make it together!Read more
The Seaplane Harbour will be closed from January to May 2024 to prepare an updated and fully engaging exhibition. The partners of the Estonian Maritime Museum in renewing the permanent exhibition of the Seaplane Harbour are KOKO architects and MOTOR.
The Estonian-Italian collaborative exhibition ‘VENEZIA – Queen of the Seas’ opened at the Seaplane Harbour on 25 March 2023 and was scheduled to be open until the beginning of January 2024. In the course of interim negotiations, it was agreed that the exhibition at the Seaplane Harbour will remain open until 3 September.