Estonian corner for creatives

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Off-beat restaurants and bars, funky design shops, workshops, concerts and other events – you can find it all at one place when visiting Estonia. What’s that magic place? Telliskivi Creative City, which is often called a “Hipsterville” by locals.

Once it was a place for the Baltic Railways factory, now – for creative people and those who want to get away from the city buzz. The über-hip Kalamaja district right next to the city centre of Estonia’s capital Tallinn recently has become a magnet for all kinds of creative activities and enterprises. Telliskivi Creative City is right at the heart of Kalamaja. Over the years its complex has radically changed the whole landscape of a district. “Telliskivi Creative City is for all the people who are interested in creation, modern culture and high quality entertainment,” says Raimo Matvere, content manager at Telliskivi, who tells us a story of this creative city of Estonia.

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“The first industrial buildings on Telliskivi street were constructed in 1869 when the Baltic Railway factories were founded. Industrial growth soon encouraged speedy development throughout the neighborhood, inciting construction activities on the streets of Heina, Õle, and soon the whole of Pelgulinn. The factories were named after M. I. Kalinin in 1940, but soon became the Tallinn Electrical Engineering Factory in the course of railway electrification. Since 1981 the company still functions under the brand name Estel. The plot was privatized when Estonia regained independence. A competition in 2003 decided on the grandiose plan for a culture quarter, which was never carried out due to recession. Instead, Telliskivi Creative City was established in 2009, and has evolved to be the largest hub for the creative economy in Estonia. So basically it started as a real estate investment by the fund who owned the property and decided to do something a little bit different. Because of the broader economic situation it needed clever usage and the idea of creative city was born.

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Finding the first tenants was difficult, as this area of Tallinn was not the safest and the most attractive on that time. Development of the Creative City has changed it a lot. When the first tenants came and the first restaurant called F-hoone has opened, more and more people started coming to this forgotten corner of the Kalamaja. Now the Creative City is getting more and more popular with local people and tourists. The reason why they are coming here, is the contrast between old town, modern city centre and Telliskivi’s “rusty look”. It is a bit alternative environment, more focused on design, small and clever solutions and creative and unique rooms. It’s a former industrial building that is turned into cozy places. The contrast is attractive, especially for tourists coming from western countries.

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The Creative City also has a very complete concept – when a visitor comes, he or she can enjoy food and drink, find out about Estonian culture, shop local design, walk around and enjoy events and cool street art. It’s a very clever way of re-using old, rusty industrial buildings in a new and modern way. We are really trying to keep this feeling here and renovate the rooms in a level where the nostalgic rustiness isn’t lost. There’s a nice choice of places where to enjoy good food and drinks – from Asian cuisine and street food to healthy restaurant food and craft beer bar. There are three theaters and 350+ events taking place every year. Visitors can enjoy concerts and parties, theater plays, stand-up comedies, quiz nights, workshops, dancing events, flea markets and so on. The shops here are small boutiques that are mostly selling Estonian design, ecologic products and fair-trade goods.”

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