10 Most Famous Prison Tourist Spots

Jail – gone are the days people were afraid to visit one. Prison tourism is picking up world over and tourists love real-time experiences being inside a prison cell. Due to this increasing interest, many abandoned prisons have been turned into tourist spots and museums over the years and have had lot of visitors. In this article, we will look at 10 most famous prisons of all times.

1. Alcatraz (The Rock), San Francisco, U.S.A:

Source: WikiMedia
The United States Penitentiary on Alcatraz Island was a high-security federal prison from 1934 to 1963. The island is surrounded by high-current sea area which makes escape almost impossible. It has housed many famous convicts over the years and has been a subject of interest in movies too. The prison tour has become so popular that it has to be booked in advance these days.

2. Old Melbourne Gaol, Melbourne, Australia:

Source: WikiMedia
The Old Melbourne Gaol was constructed in 1839 and opened in 1845. In 1957, the National Trust of Australia converted the prison into a museum for preservation and engagement of tourists. The museum is now said to be haunted by paranormal enthusiast and also hosts personal events like parties and weddings too.

3. Kalapani (Cellular Jail), Andaman Islands, India:   

Source: WikiMedia

This colonial prison situated in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India, was used by the British to exile political prisoners back in the day. The prison was constructed between 1896 and 1906. After Indian independence, in 1969, it was made a national memorial and has ever since become a tourist interest for foreigners as well as mainland Indians.

4. Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, Ireland:

Source: WikiMedia

This prison was first built in the year 1796. It has seen in the imprisonment and execution of some of the big Irish leaders in the past. In the mid-1980s, the Irish Government turned it into a museum for preservation. Parts of famous movies like The Shawshank Redemption and The Italian Job were filmed here.

5. Hoa Lo Prison, Vietnam:

HanoiHilton.jpg (400×318)
Source: WikiMedia

Hoa Lo meaning ‘fierce furnace’ or ‘Hell’s hole’ was built between 1886-1889 by the French. It was located in the French quarter of Hanoi, mainly to hold Vietnamese political prisoners and freedom fighters. By mid-1990s, most parts of it was demolished and the remaining was converted into a museum by the government. The demolished site, now has a 25-storey hotel apartment and many commercial complex buildings. The guillotine room still exists with original equipment used in olden days.

6. Ottawa Jail Hostel, Ottawa, Canada:

Souce: WikiMedia

Originally called the Carleton County Gaol, is now a hostel operated by Hostelling International. The jail was built in 1862 and has witnessed many hangings and the staff have reported the haunting of the place by spirits of those hanged there. It remained a jail till 1972 after which it was converted into a hostel.

7. Karosta prison, Latvia:

Constructed between 1890-1906, Karosta was a sea port prison which was a naval base for Russian Tsar Alexander III. It has now been converted into a gallery called K@2 Artist Center where many local and foreign artists come for inspiration. There are guided tours of the prison and gallery these days for the benefit of tourists.

8. Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia:

Source: WikiMedia
It is a small town and previous convict settlement in Tasmania, Australia. Established in 1830, it started as a timber station and later became a convict settlement. In 1877, it was stopped being used as prison but it was in the 1970s, the National Park and Wildlife Service began managing the site. In 1987, it was preserved as a historic site and has had huge tourist attraction as ever since then.

9. Seodaemun prison, Seoul, South Korea:

It was opened in the year 1908, when Korea was a Japanese colony. It was used to house anti-colonial activists until 1945 when the colonial era ended. After that, until 1987, it was used as a prison by South Korean government, and later in 1992, it was converted into Seodaemun Prison History Park and henceforth, a tourist attraction.

10. Eastern State penitentiary, Philadelphia, U.S.A:

Source: WikiMedia
Also known as ESP, it was opened in 1829 and was used till 1971. It covers an area of 11 acres, it has a dark and gloomy atmosphere which has been shot in several films and television series and was also used as inspiration for play station game interface. After 1965, it is currently a U.S National Historic Landmark, preserving one of the oldest modern-day prison buildings in the country.

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