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Viru Center 20 – The Continuously Evolving Heart of the City

6.05.2024

Exactly 20 years ago, on May 7, 2004, the Viru Centre was opened on Tallinn’s Viru Square, which has since become the most visited place for 20 consecutive years. Without it, residents of Tallinn and visitors alike could hardly imagine the heart of the city.

In the heart of Tallinn, where bustling trade took place already a century ago, and where in Soviet-era Estonia a hotel rose as a symbol of freedom and served as the first workplace for many millionaires, alongside its legendary culinary store, was opened 20 years ago with vibrant celebrations and speeches by the chairmen of the Estonian and Finnish Parliaments, the Viru Centre.

Over time, the center has become increasingly integrated with the city, evolving into its internal street and serving as a stop, a place for enjoying a lunch, beauty services, shopping, attracting nearly 40,000 people daily. Nearly 900 people work in the center every day, and their efforts were recognized in the “Praise the Servant” campaign as Estonia’s best service organization in 2024.

View of Viru Square in the early 1900s.
View of Viru Square in the 1930`s

“Over the course of 20 years, since the landmark spring when Estonia joined the European Union and Viru Centre opened, significant changes have taken place in society. For nearly a decade, there has been talk of the disappearance of physical retail with the arrival of new consumption models. However, in our Viru Centre, we see that people, as social beings, still enjoy experiences, so high-quality modern physical commerce in a prime location is certainly not fading, but moving in quite the opposite direction,” stated Gertti Kogermann, CEO of Viru Centre.

However, demands for convenience have grown, and customers increasingly want to receive services along with their products from one convenient location. “If having a gym in the center was considered peak innovation 20 years ago, today customers expect much more from a center. In addition to quality shopping, customers want the opportunity for a delicious meal, beauty services, or simply a comfortable stop between their home and workplace. In the newly renovated Viru Centre, all these options are available. Despite all the added features, our strength remains the best selection of international fashion brands,” noted Kogermann.

Over the course of 20 years, Viru Centre has been visited 252 million times, which would be hundreds of times per Estonian. “20 years ago, we started as a classic shopping center, but today we continue as a modern urban hub. Last year, we completed our largest internal renovation in history, and on this journey, we still have many more news to come: we are integrating more with Tammsaare Park, updating our exterior facade on all sides, all to create a higher-quality spatial experience,” said Kogermann.

Viru Keskus interior after refurbishment in 2023
Viru Keskus interior after refurbishment in 2023

Throughout the years, Viru Centre has housed several stores whose value for Estonian people has not diminished through the years. Beloved brands such as Kaubamaja, Rahva Raamat, Zara, Mango, The BodyShop, Nike, Instrumentarium, and others have greeted shoppers since the center’s first day, remaining favorites to this day.

Throughout its entire history, Viru Centre has evolved into dedicated supporter of Estonian culture. The atrium on the ground floor of the center, which is traversed daily by tens of thousands of visitors, has become a true urban meeting place thanks to outstanding music and art exhibitions brought to the center by several important cultural carriers such as Estonian Arts Academy, Tallinn Music Week, Estonian Arts Museum KUMU, music festival Jazzkaar and many others.

Viru Centre has been also recognized in various professional and creative competitions throughout its history. In its opening year in 2004, it won the Retail Achievement of the Year award, and notably, Viru Centre was also honored with the Retail Achievement of the Year title in 2023 after the completion of internal renovation works. Over the years, the center has brought home 52 awards from local Golden Egg creative competition.

The Viru Keskus campaign inspired by Estonian artists from 2019 was created in collaboration with KUMU.
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