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Rummu quarry in Estonia - prison turned bathing paradise

In co-operation with the Estonian Tourist Board

Rummu quarry in Estonia is a very different kind of sun and bathing paradise, where you can swim or dive around a sunken prison. The crystal clear and shimmering green water has transformed the site into an underwater museum and holiday paradise.

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Towards rummu and a different experience

After the visit to the charming little town Haapsalu On the west coast of Estonia, we rolled north towards a very different attraction and swimming spot we had read about: Rummu Quarry. The former quarry is located southwest of Tallinn, and from Haapsalu it was a drive of about 50 minutes.

Rummu quarry in Estonia

Between the 1930s and 1990s, the Rummu quarry in Estonia mined the so-called Vasalemma marble, a type of limestone. Prisoners from both Rummu and Murru prisons were used as labourers. The prisoners in these Soviet prisons had to work hard and every year some died or 'disappeared'.

When Estonia gained independence in 1991, many of the Soviet institutions closed and the quarry was abandoned. While the quarry was operating, pumps kept the groundwater away, and when the pumps were switched off, the water rose from the ground.

The water level rose so quickly that several buildings, a large excavator and a lot of other equipment remained underwater. A large lake has now formed, with some of the buildings protruding above and others below the surface.

Rummu stenbrott i Estland

The prison that became a tourist paradise

When the Soviet prisoners toiled at the quarry, they could hardly imagine the future that was to come. The water at Rummu Quarry is crystal clear, which has turned the area into a kind of underwater museum and diver's paradise. The shimmering green water, the beaches (sand and gravel) and the sunken buildings, which can be climbed on and jumped from, also attract children, young people and adults who want to sunbathe and swim.

Semesterparadis

When we were here, someone had even rolled down a small sauna, and the water was full of inflatable mattresses and water toys.

Rummu stenbrott i Estland

Climbing the quarry

Next to the lake is the high slag heap, which over time has acquired a very special and pointed appearance. We saw that many people climbed to the top of the slag heap to get a view of the whole area. We decided to do the same.

Rummu stenbrott i Estland

Most of the hike up was fairly easy, but there was one section that was quite steep. In Rummu there are no safety devices and no railings, so you just have to take it easy and be careful.

Rummu stenbrott i Estland
Helena

View of the Rummu quarry

At the top, of course, you had a magnificent view of the quarry, the prison and the whole area. I (Helena) am afraid of heights and liked the not that edge before the cliff, but from a safe distance I have to admit that the view was awesome.

It is both difficult and easy to imagine that this was once a dreaded prison. The transformation is complete.

WIFI.se
Stenbrott i Estland

If you think my smile in the selfie is a bit stiff, then can you are right. But still, the view is fascinating, isn't it?

Snorkelling at the Adventure Centre

We then moved on to the Rummu Adventure Centre, which is a few minutes away around the first corner. Here they rent canoes, Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) and diving equipment, and also have instructors on hand to help.

Adventurecenter

Peter brought a snorkel and flippers, and borrowed the Adventure Centre's dock to get into the water. He snorkelled for a while, but didn't get as close to the areas of interest as he thought he would, as it was difficult to know how far various metal objects were sticking out of the water. Peering into the water from a SUP board might have been a better option ...

Bad i Estland

Stand Up Paddle Board

We stood for a while and watched a group paddling around on SUP boards. One couple had found a clever method. He paddled while she went "free riding" and looked down into the water with a cyclops ...!

Stand up Paddle board
SUP

Beach life

We chose to lie down on the beach for a while and just relax. It was really nice in the warm summer weather and I think we fell asleep for a while. When we woke up, we were entertained by watching all the young people clambering onto the sunken house (from window to window by grabbing onto uneven walls) and then jumping off the roof.

Rummu stenbrott i Estland
Rummu stenbrott i Estland

Beer in the bar

We also managed to buy a beer in the relaxed little bar. This was a great day in Estonia, in a very different place!

Bar vid Rummu stenbrott i Estland
Öl

Video from Rummu

All our top tips for Estonia. Click on the image!

Facts about Rummu quarry in Estonia

  • Name: Rummu Quarry (in Estonian Rummu Karjäär and in English Rummu Quarry)
  • Address: Haapsalu maantee 13, Rummu Alevik, Vasalemma vald, Harju maakond, Estonia
  • Find here: Set your GPS to "Rummu Quarry" or to "Rummu Quarry Adventure Centre". The quarry is located southwest of Tallinn, and it takes about 50 minutes to drive from Tallinn. When you arrive, you will see a high prison wall, and there is an opening in it where you drive in.

Opening hours and prices

  • Opening hours: The whole area is open every day during the summer months. At other times of the year, visits must be pre-booked.
  • Prices: Adults (from 16 years old) pay €3 per person for a visit. Children under 16 enter free of charge. (2019) Please note that prices are subject to change. For prices for SUP, canoeing, diving, etc. see the Adventure Centre website.

Good to know

  • Service: Bar with drinks and snacks, bajamaja and adventure centre with instructors and equipment rental for various water activities.
  • Accessibility: You can drive almost all the way to the swimming area, and then it's a short walk on gravel. Getting up the quarry's "mountain" is a bit steep at times.
  • Security: You enter the area at your own risk. There are sunken buildings under the water, and there are no guardrails on the "mountain".

Things to see and do at Rummu Quarry

  • Activities: Sun and swimming, snorkelling, diving, SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board), canoeing and jet surfing.
  • Read more: You can find more information on Rummu Adventure Centre website.

History of Rummus

  • 1930s: The quarry was excavated to extract Vasalemma marble (a type of limestone similar in structure to marble).
  • The Soviet era: Prisoners at Murru and Rummu prison worked hard to extract Vasalemma marble in the quarry, until the 1990s.
  • Estonia's independence: Estonia gained independence in 1991 and many of the Soviet institutions fell, including the quarry and the prisoners' labour there.
  • Closure of the quarry: When the quarry was closed and the pumps switched off, the quarry quickly filled with groundwater and a lake formed.
  • 2000s: In 2001, Rummu prison was merged with Murru prison, and in 2004 these were merged with Harku women's prison. On 31 December 2012, all prisons were permanently closed.
  • A new era: After the closure of the quarry, the site became popular for many new activities, such as photography, hiking, diving and various sports activities. The site was also used in the music video for the song 'Faded' (2015) by Norwegian DJ Alan Walker. The site was closed for a period of time for security reasons, but is now open for tourists to swim and dive.

Programme "Promoting Estonia as a Tourism Destination" is supported by European Union Regional Development Fund.

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