The town square is located in a very picturesque place on the high seacoast. The square is located on a crossing of the major streets of town. The town square and buildings, surrounding it, were built in Stalin's new classicistic style, according to a subdivision plan of 1948. The square became an addition of this celebratory ensemble. Near to the square are the buildings of the cultural centre, the building of municipality (former executive committee) and residential houses. The wide ladder, which is continued by celebratory and spacious boulevard, goes down from the square and leads directly to the sea. Near to the ladder, there is an honours list where portraits of outstanding workers used to hang. In the square, there was a statue of Stalin, which was removed when cult status of Stalin was ended. In 1987 in honour of the 70th anniversary of the October revolution, a monument known as "Honour to work" was put in the square. The formation of greenery was made in characteristic symmetric decoration of the 1950 new classicistic style, (multicoloured flowerbeds, flower vases, benches, and rows of trees).
The building of the cultural centre is a monument of architectural design. Its similarity with the palace reflects the understanding of Stalin's epoch about the superiority of art. About 200 meters from the square, there is another monument of architecture; a building of the former cinema, which also is a very grandiose building. The area surrounds an architectural ensemble, which was constructed according to a characteristic subdivision plan of the 1950 new classicistic style.
The wide ladder, which is continued by celebratory and spacious boulevard, goes down from the square and leads directly to the sea. Boulevard is located between the ceremoniously decorated houses. The view from the square downwards is so breathtaking, that it can be compared to Odessa. Near to the ladder, there is an honours list where portraits of outstanding workers used to hang.
Nowadays stairs and Mere Boulevard are one of the symbols of Sillamäe, and expressively show the ideology of the Stalinist new classicism. Architecture was one of the ways of propagation. In this way authorities could communicate with people. Classicism was chosen as a soviet architecture style, because it had such big, rhetorical potential. Stalinist new classicism was authority architecture. Authority communicated with the people ceremoniously and subordinately. Mighty colonnades, stairs, made people feel the presence of authority and their own nothingness.
So that the image was full, the ladder, (leading from the square to the boulevard) was decorated with sculptures and living palm trees (in winter palm trees were placed in greenhouses, and were taken back in the spring).
The Boulevard is built as usual for the 1950 symmetrical way. From both sides the boulevard is bordered by houses with facades decorated in new classicistic style. In the lower part of the boulevard, parallel to the sea, flows the River Sõtke, which runs into the sea after 200 metres. As the city was closed and near to a border zone, the people were not able to get to the sea, as the part of boulevard near the sea was not completely constructed. It is now planned to restore the boulevard in its former condition.
Building of town council and town government
The town government building is a part of architecture ensemble of 1950 and is built in new classicistic style. Architect Popov made this project of construction in 1950. An interesting fact is that, at that time in many cities of Estonia, administration centres were built and their construction was almost the same (for example in Otepää, Jõhvi, Orissaare, Vastseliina, Põlva, Räpina). The administration building of Sillamäe was constructed as a building which represents the authorities, but from the first sight it is possible to accept it for being a church. Nevertheless, there was never a church in this building, only the administration of the town worked here; at first the executive committee, and now Sillamäe town council and town government. There is an opinion, that it was the belief of architects of the Soviet Union, that in each city there should be a town hall and a church, therefore a building of Sillamäe executive committee was designed visually as a town hall and church.
However, the initial plan of the tower of a building differed from that which is now. The original design of the tower reminded authorities of a tower of a concentration camp, which was impossible to show at that time. So the tower has been re-designed.
The building had very plentiful decor from which the symbols of the Soviet Union have now been removed. It is now only possible to see this décor in old photos. The building is the highest in old part of the town. The view to the sea and over the town, which opens from this tower, is beautiful. Nowadays this is where the town council and town government work.
Centre of the town (architecture ensemble of 1940-1950- Stalinist neoclassicism)
Building of the town centre began with the period of the founding of the town. The basis for construction of an old part of the town, which is located on the bank of the Sõtke River, became the general plan of city made in 1946-1947 and the project of a detailed subdivision plan of 1948.
One of the main sights of the town is the town square. The square is bordered with the cultural centre and the building of the town council and town government. Not far from this square is located a cinema building, which was designed in Ashgabat. The wide ladder, which is continued by celebratory and spacious boulevard, goes down from the square and leads directly to the sea. The Boulevard is located between ceremoniously decorated houses. The view from the square downwards is so breathtaking, that it can be compared to Odessa. Near to the ladder, there is an honours list where portraits of outstanding workers used to hang.
The network of town streets is strictly geometric. Houses are settled in the strict order. In the centre of the area, there are buildings for general service. Most of these buildings are two-storied houses, yet closer to the sea there are four-storied houses. Most buildings have identical architectural designs; the elements of a facade executed in style new classicism were kept. Area has high milieu value.
Administration buildings of the factory
The Silmet factory is the main reason why the town as built, also why it was closed and confidential and how town now looks like. The town was built for the workers of the factory. Questions of administration of the factory were decided in the beginning of the construction of the town. Behind the administration buildings there was the confidential zone fenced by concrete walls where there was a factory for the processing of uranium.
Buildings play an important role in the history of the factory. They were also built in the new classicistic style. Greenery in front of the administration buildings was typical for the time. During the period of rule of the Soviet Union, in front of the buildings there was a statue of Lenin.
Houses of Sõtke Street
The group of houses in Sõtke Street is of premium value because it was the first inhabited area, which was constructed for the workers of the factory in 1940. The street is found between the river and the sea. The street has entire composition. Beautifully decorated two-storied houses are in the strict order located on the different sides of the street. Houses are built in classicistic style; houses from the sea are decorated with stucco décor, from the river however, they do not have a lot of decoration. This is supplemented with an abundance of greenery. Houses differ from the houses in the Kesk Street that were constructed at the same time, as they are less decorated, creating a pleasant and warm atmosphere.
The cinema building
The cinema was a very important kind of art in the Soviet Union because it possessed the big force of propaganda. During the Stalinist era, it was easy to control it. Cinema was popular in 1950 because, there were not so many other opportunities of spending spare time. Also, television was not popular at that time.
The Sillamäe cinema building is located on Kesk Street 11, some 200 meters from the town square. According to the decree of the minister of culture, the building of a cinema is recognized as a monument of architecture.
In the Institute of Design in Ashgabat (Turkmen) in 1952, the project of constructing the Sillamäe cinema building was made. A Cinema with two halls was built in the Stalinist new classicistic style. In the Stalinist architecture the building, that was decorated, was considered to be beautiful. The cinema and the centre of culture were decorated, because art should be pure and majestic, and the purpose of the cultural policy was to supervise a position of the people and to form an opinion of the public and general attitude. So, the cinema and cultural centre had to create the necessary atmosphere. Both the external and internal decor of the cinema building is plentiful. It is possible to find motives of an ancient art, an emblem of Russian beauties, Pushkin, dared and crying masks etc, in the internal decor of the cinema building. There is a spacious foyer in the vestibule. On the second floor there was a restaurant, and in the beginning there was a dance hall where musicians played and local singers sang. In the cellar of a building there was a shooting gallery.
The cinema opened on 1 May 1955. There were 6 shows every day, and more during the weekends. (Factory workers had shift work). Separate shows for the children were organized. The cinema was very popular and the near two ticket offices were constantly busy. "Tarzan" was the first film which was shown there.
Constructed during 1950-1960, the first inhabited block which is located in the town centre, consists of typically five-floor houses (so called khrushchovkas). It was designed according to a so called free subdivision plan. Houses in relation to the streets are located diagonally and in the centre of the area there are to be found a stadium, kindergartens and different accessory buildings.
Before Khrushchev, preference in architecture was given to classicism that created the illusion of a beautiful and powerful country. However, in the middle 1950, the revolution in architecture occurred. In 1954, in the Kremlin, there was a meeting, devoted to building and architecture. Here it was decided in future to construct, so that it was possible to reduce the expense of building and to increase the capacity of houses. In order to achieve this goal, it was decided to build houses under the standard project, which assumed the typical design for construction. It was also decided to remove excessive ornaments from construction. The architecture in the days of Khrushchev was laconic, for at this time, the idea of unduly decorated houses did not seem appropriate. Simple is beautiful. The area was typical, covered with verdure and built in a complex.