Now here’s a cemetery I had never heard of, until I thought to research cemeteries in Tallinn (actually, that’s pretty common to all the cemeteries on this trip). There were actually a few cemeteries that sounded quite interesting to visit, but I only had time for one, so I decided to go with Siselinna, Tallinn’s oldest and largest cemetery. Or I should say cemeteries, as it is three cemeteries rolled into one: the oldest being the Russian Orthodox Aleksander Nevski Cemetery that was first established in 1775; in 1864 the Estonian Vana-Kaarli Cemetery was added; and finally in the early 20th century the Military Cemetery completed the trio. The latter actually makes sense as there is a large military base adjacent to the cemetery – when I was walking there I began to second-guess myself that I was in the right area, what with all the military vehicles and barbed wire about. But I trusted in my Google map and it got me there just fine.
The cemetery itself is like a long rectangle, punctuated by some low-lying walls – what I assume to be the markers of the different cemeteries, although that was not clear to me at the time I was visiting. If you are a lover of iron crosses (and fences), this is the cemetery for you. I’ve never seen so many iron crosses, in such variety, in any cemetery I have ever visited. Iron, stone, wood; whole, broken, fallen, removed – it seemed like there was an entire forest of crosses. Interestingly though, they were just crosses – very few were crucifixes showing Jesus on the cross. Similarly, there were very few statues – I only counted three full statues, one of which is the featured image of this post. Classic funeral imagery was absent as well – no inverted torches, doves, broken pillars, etc. I did find one draped urn in the entire cemetery. I’m sure there might be more, but I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to explore the cemetery due to the weather, but I did go over most of the main parts.
Quality of Monuments: Not many monuments as such, but, as noted, plenty of crosses for the cross enthusiast.
Cemetery Grounds: Extensive, on a slightly rolling hill, but should not be a problem for most people. The ground is pretty even, if overgrown. It’s in a beautiful forest with lots of oak and maple trees. Wear mosquito repellent if visiting in the summer. There is a toilet in the office by the gate, it’s the only one in the whole cemetery.
Visitors: Some locals use it as a park, walking and cycling, and of course, some mourners there as well. I seemed to be the only tourist there as such.
Photographer notes: There are big beautiful trees there, and it’s quite overgrown, so be prepared for low light levels if it’s not a sunny day. If shooting black and white, have yellow or green filters to help separate the foliage from the monuments.
Cemetery: Siselinna Kalmistu
Location: Toonela tee 3, 10132 Tallinn, Estonia
Take Bus 54 to the bus terminal, and walk westwards from there. Or, if you would prefer, it only takes 20-30 minutes to walk there from the Old Town (depending on where you are located).
Hours: 09:00-16:00. Closed weekends.