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Some hotels have spa’s, some have fitness centres but what about a KGB museum?

KGB Museum Tallinn

The former KGB listening and monitoring room Hotel Viru.

In the days when the Soviets were in the Baltic countries they were well know for keeping an eye on any visiting Westerners.

However, in Estonia’s capital of Tallinn they could not only keep and eye on them but hear everything they were doing too!

KGB plan KGB Museum Tallinn

KGB plans to show where the bugs were placed.

In the Viru Hotel in the city run by ‘Intourist’ and probably for the KGB.  The KGB had decided to bug 60 rooms with microphones and observation holes in order to do just that to many of the visiting westerners. There were probably more bugs at the hotel than bed bugs!

Microphone Bugs And Spy Cameras

This mass monitoring was probably done in many hotels all over the Soviet Union in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s.  However, due to a twist of fate the control and monitoring room was discovered after the country became independent after 1991.

On its 23rd floor the hotel manager uncovered a mystery room and inside he found an electronic listening control room.  The locked room was as it was left when the Russian military hurriedly left the country. During that period as the Soviet Union started to fall apart.

KGB Museum Tallinn

KGB Commanders office at Hotel Viru.

It remained like that for several years.  Until the new management in the hotel decided to turn the secret rooms into a museum in 2012.

A hotel plate with a built in microphone at The KGB Museum Tallinn.

The urgent departure of the KGB officers meant that the equipment, files, papers and some of the gadgets were all left behind.

Hotel Viru

The Hotel Viru with its KGB Museum on the 23rd floor

Costing around €11 you can sign up for a tour of the KGB Museum by contacting the reception at the hotel.  Tours take around one hour.  Many tours are in English but also some are in Finnish too.

KGB Museum Tallinn

You will be able to visit the former surveillance rooms and offices used by the KGB. See and handle some of the gadgets used by them to monitor the guests that were perceived as being spies by the Soviets.

Many were just normal business people.  But the KGB would set up pretty girls to try to entrap visitors in ‘Honey Traps’.  Then extract money from them with blackmail.  Or obtain industrial or any military secrets too.

KGB Museum Tallinn

Bugged cuff links and tiny transmitter KGB Museum Tallinn

Not only were 60 rooms fitted with bugs.  But the KGB even had tiny electronic microphones fitted into plates, ashtrays around the building.  A set of cuff links was found so they could listen to conversations being had over meals in the restaurant on its 22nd floor.

The KGB Museum social media opportunity.

Today the Viru Hotel is very popular with visitors to Tallinn.  Certainly well worth knowing.  That when on the tour you will have a wonderful vantage point to take some great photographs of the city from its secret 23rd floor.

The floor that when the KGB ran the place and according to them and the hotel records.  It never had a 23rd floor!

Further reading:  Neil Taylor’s Bradt Travel Guide on Estonia is full of more information about the country.

Geoff Moore

Award winning blogger and travel writer/photographer, I have travelled the world in one way or another for 30 years. I am a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers for over 13 years. In the ever-changing world of publishing and online media it now requires that I have media skills across all areas. That now also includes video production. My travel images appear in magazines, newspapers and publications all over the world I am now blogging about all aspects of travel.

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