It is no surprise that, given the advanced age of Tallinn’s Old Town, the streets and buildings are thought to be full of ghosts. Since the cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi put the town of Qlwn (now presumed to be present-day Tallinn) on the map in 1154, the stories of paranormal presences and hauntings have persisted. Not only are select buildings said to be haunted, but one would be hard-pressed to find a building that did not have a ghostly tale associated with it.
Our haunted journey begins at Rataskaevu 16, one of Tallinn’s oldest streets, where the legend of the Devil’s Wedding began. Upon looking at the top upper left window, one sees something a bit out of place. The window of room 6 has been boarded up from the inside, with curtains painted on the outside.
Legend has it that, centuries ago, a man clad in black approached the owner of the hotel (built in 1370) to ask for a room for his wedding. With the promise of considerable payment, the man asked that under no circumstances was anyone to enter the room.
The owner, nearing bankruptcy, agreed to the terms. However, as the event came to pass, the noises, people coming and going, and general loud commotion intrigued the owner, causing him to renege on his promise not to view or disturb the event.
Unable to bear his curiosity, the owner crept upstairs towards room 6 and peered through the keyhole. What he saw was so frightening, that he fled. He told his wife he had seen the Devil’s Wedding.
Rumors and stories have surrounded what is now the Rataskaevu Residence Hotel for centuries. Documents, coins, and even human bones were found during a 2003 renovation of the building, leading even skeptics to agree that something mysterious definitely took place there. Various details of the story have come to light, passed down through the centuries. Some say the owner entered the room the morning after and saw a goat-skin bag full of gold. After touching the bag, it turned to horse dung and the owner died. Still other stories mention hoof prints on the floor. These stories reached the ears of city officials who ordered the room to be boarded up and never to be opened to a soul again.
The building is situated next to the Cat’s Well, Kassikaev, named such for the apparent animal (feline) sacrifices that were made to it. Even today, there are reports of strange noises emanating from the area.
Further on down the road at Suur-Karja 10 is the simple, ordinary house built in the 13th century. At first glance, nothing seems out of the ordinary until one hears the tale of what lay buried beneath. For hundreds of years, those who lived in the house claimed to hear scratching, footsteps and ghoulish voices throughout the building. In 1928, during a renovation, workers allegedly found human remains in one of the walls. Soon after, the noises stopped.
If one craves a ghostly sighting, then the best bet is Lühike Jalg. Supposedly the most haunted spot in Tallinn, sightings involving a medieval woman and a regretful monk (also an executioner) are frequent. The gate tower at the top of this street is the area of most hauntings and, in 1930, paranormal investigators even claim to have contacted the monk’s spirit.
In terms of sheer mystery, there is a street in Tallinn called Ghost Street (Vaimu), known centuries ago as Spukstrasse. No one really knows why the street is called such, but even as the street changed names and languages over time (from Strashnaya ulitsa (the scary street) to Vana (old) street), the mystery surrounding the little street remains. There are many ghost tours that run throughout the season in Tallinn and, during this time of ghosts and spirits, sightings are sure to increase.