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Balti Jaam Market

Author: Anothertravelguide.com0 COMMENTS

Balti Jaam Market

The reconstruction of Balti Jaam Market, the legendary Soviet-era flea market is undeniably the loudest event in the city this year. It’s also one more historical site in Tallinn that has purposefully been given new life, thereby gradually also changing the pulse of the whole neighbourhood.

Foto: Balti Jaam MarketFoto: Balti Jaam MarketFoto: Balti Jaam Market

Having opened in the early 1990s, Balti Jaam Market sits between Tallinn’s main railway station (balti jaama means ‘Baltic station’ in Estonian) and the bohemian neighbourhood of Kalamaja. As is common for railway stations, the area always had a dicey yet undoubtedly spirited, intriguing aura, which calls to mind a past now seen as exotic. Nearby, a part of the old flea market has been preserved, with its second-hand clothing and Soviet-era relics: vinyl records, military decorations and medals, clothing fluttering in the wind, merchants who look like they’ve just stepped out of a time machine. It’s a gold mine for nostalgics. And, importantly for locals, the new changes have not completely driven out the old aura of the place; it still lives alongside and interacts with the new winds that are increasingly arriving here. And that’s undoubtedly Tallinn’s most unique characteristic – as the city changes, it surprisingly and very organically manages to retain all of its wrinkles and old soul, however contradictory the two sides might sometimes seem.

Foto: Balti Jaam MarketFoto: Balti Jaam MarketFoto: Balti Jaam Market

Even though reconstruction work is still being done along one side of Balti Jaam Market, it’s obvious that the zig-zag roof fits wonderfully with the whole landscape and gives it extra flair. The old façades of warehouses dating to the late 19th century have been preserved, while an architecturally humorous but also relatively intimate solution has been found for the market stalls under the decorative roof. Each of the stalls is like a separate little house, and each is a different colour, a different height, and with different trim. One is a bakery, another a burger joint (serving the best burgers in town, so I’ve heard), another a pet food store. In one particular bright pink little house you’ll find a merchant dressed in a bright pink tulle skirt selling all sorts of zephyrs and other sweets. In all, it’s a joyful, self-sufficient little village where it is not only pleasant to shop but also just spend some time. There are stylish bicycle stands and even a charging station for electric automobiles across from the fruit and vegetable stands.

The Balti Jaam Market reconstruction project was designed by the well-known Estonian architecture office Koko, which also designed Tallinn’s Seaplane Harbour. The former seaplane hangars from the early 20th century are now home to the Estonian Maritime Museum, which opened in 2012. Another reconstruction project by Koko opened just last year in Tartu, namely, the University of Tartu Natural History Museum. Established in 1802, it is one of the oldest museums in Estonia. Interestingly, until reconstruction work began in 2011, the museum’s permanent exposition had not been changed for 40 years.

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