Maarjamäe Memorial Complex


Allan Murdmaa
Matti Varik


Pirita road 80, Tallinn, Estonia


Completed in 1975


Ott Alver


Historical, Public Projects


Pirita, Memorial, Tallinn

This memorial is the best example of Soviet modernist landscaping in Estonia and the main commemorative object in Tallinn during the Soviet era. The high artistic standard and emotional power are ensured by its highly abstract solution.

The enormous monument complex was completed in 1975. It was meant to commemorate all who had perished fighting for the Soviet Union. It consists of architectural and landscape elements. The rectangular open part towards the sea was meant to function as a ceremonial stage with seating for 1000 spectators. A second stage was also planned to be built but it never got off the paper.

The main design consists of two intersecting ceremonial lines that are cut into the ground, playing on the contrast between seemingly infinite sightlines of light dolomite and the softness of green grassy slopes. The sculpture next to the main axis includes two palms placed together around the spot for the eternal flame, avoiding direct ideological references in form and conveying rather a universal feeling of loss. The second sculpture that creates a gate-like form at the end of the second axis depicts a flock of birds.

The obelisk (by Mart Port ja Lembit Toll) that stands next to the memorial complex was erected earlier, in 1960, and was meant to commemorate the Ice Cruise of 1918.