Viivikonna: Exploring an alleged Ghost Town in Estonia
I had plans to visit Estonia and its capital Tallinn for quite some time. This year I finally managed to get there. You know me meanwhile: Of course I did quite a bit of a research to find lost places in or near Tallinn.
One place that always popped up during my research was a small city named „Viivikonna“, a former mining town near the Russian Border. So after I spent a day in Tallinn, I picked up my rental car and drove to Viivikonna; a two hour drive (mainly because the speed limit on Estonian Roads is between 55 mph and 58 mph)
For the last few miles, Google Maps told me to leave the main road and go on a dirt road that was in a really bad condition. I mean, wouldn’t you be suspicious if you find a well paved road to a ghost town?
After a few miles I saw the first three residential houses; two of them were ruins. „Exactly was I was looking for,“ was my first thought. I walked around those houses through the high gras and took some photos.
But before we continue, let‘s define the term „Ghost Town“ together. I believe we can agree on the following criteria:
- Most important, a ghost town is usually abandoned like completely abandoned and no one lives there.
- Many buildings are decayed. Some are even collapsed.
- Nature has taken back the place. I‘d expect high grass everywhere. And trees growing near, in or on top of old buildings.
So after I took the first few photos, I drove one mile further into the city and parked my car near something that looked like a bus stop. I walked to a place with several old storage units.
After looking closely, I saw something suspicious on this photo. Can you spot it too? Look at the lock on the first gate. That lock on the first gate looks quite new! I thought that this was a little strange but didn‘t investigate further and walked back to my car. You remember that I parked it near something that looked like a bus stop, right? It was a bus stop and an old man with a plastic bag sat there. Once he saw me, he walked up to me and I used Bing Translator to explain what I‘m doing here. He just smiled. I still wonder if he smiled because I used a translation app on an iPhone or because of the translation.
Next, I drove a little further into the city. And again, I encountered something suspicious. Look at the lawn! That‘s not something you‘d expect in a ghost town, do you? A few seconds later, I saw a kid on his bike. Another few moments later I spotted a parked car between the houses and even more moments later, a pickup truck with four people came down the road. They didn‘t care much about me either.
Driving even further into the town, I saw more ruins but also well maintained houses. Some with gardens, some with a (modern) parked car in front. WTF? Why is this placed called a Ghost Town? There are still people living here! And not just one or two, it seemed like dozens of people still inhabit this „ghost town“.
I drove along a few more streets and encountered the same situation everywhere. Ruins, decayed buildings, but a well maintained house with a parked car now and then. The only thing I didn’t see in Viivikonna was any kind of store or shop.
In respect of the inhabitants I left the town and on my way out I spotted a ruin right near the city limits of Viivikonna. I‘ve no idea what this place was. There‘s a beaten path right near this building that takes you past it and revealed two more ruins. Be careful if you walk inside that former four-storied building. Some of the upper floors have already collapsed and the debris can be found on the ground floor.
I can‘t image how living in a half decayed city has to be and I‘m thankful I don‘t have to. So if you plan to go to Viivikonna, please show respect to the people that still live there. If a house and the surrounding area of the house looks well maintained, there‘s probably someone still living in there. The best places to see and experience the decayed buildings are those near the city limits.
Oh yes, and on my way back I passed by the bus stop I mentioned earlier. It seemed like a bus had just dropped off two dozen of citizens. It looked like they were all walking back to their homes.
During the past years I’ve been to a number of lost places in Europe. Check out my blog posts about all the lost places I’ve visited.