Over the entire history in the world, there was a huge number of terrifying places of imprisonment of criminals, some of them were destroyed, some were disbanded, some still perform their function. Today, there are 93 former prisons that have become museums open to curious visitors. We want to tell you about the 5 most impressive.
1. Alcatraz, United States
The disbanded prison, which is also called “The Rock”, gained worldwide fame after the release of the eponymous film with Nicolas Cage in 1996. Alcatraz is located on an island in the Bay of San Francisco, California, and really looks like an impregnable rock. In the 19th century, a lighthouse, a defensive fort, and a military prison were built on the island, and in 1934 the prison was transferred to the federal level to keep there in custody of particularly dangerous criminals prone to escape. In addition to iron grates and strict wardens, icy water with a strong current into the ocean served as reliable protection from escaping. In total, during the operation of the prison, 14 escape attempts were organized, but the five most fortunate fugitives who managed to escape were never found dead or dead, so it is believed that there were no reliable precedents. The most famous prisoner of Alcatraz was the American gangster Al Capone.
Today, the prison is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and tourists take there the ferry every day. During the tour, visitors can explore the internal structure of the prison, visit the cells and learn in detail the history of the most famous escape attempt.
2. Abashiri, Japan
Prison on the island of Hokkaido is considered the most reliable in the history of Japan. For almost a hundred years, the most hardened criminals were sent to the snowbound shores of the Sea of Okhotsk, where the winter hurricane wind nailed drifting Siberian ice. The sentence to imprisonment in Abashiri practically meant the death penalty, and the bridge connecting the prison territory with the outside world was the last frontier on the road to non-existence for many desperate yakuza. Despite the very strict regime, escapes from prison. The most famous was committed in 1944 by Yoshi Shiratori, a thief, and recidivist with the talent of Houdini, who became famous for running from all prisons, where he was imprisoned for life or to wait for the death penalty. It is said that he could unscrew his joints and was able to crawl through the grille with the width of the hole in his palm. Howbeit,
Currently, the existing Abarasi prison is located in a new building, not so far from the city center, but the old building has been turned into a museum. Tourists waiting for a visual tour, in each room are placed mannequins, demonstrating the prison way: sitting in the baths covered with sheets tattooed yakuza, in general barracks, prisoners sleep with their heads on a log – so the overseer could wake everyone with a blow to a piece of wood.
3. Klink, UK
Founded in 1144, Klink Prison is the oldest male and female prison in England, which survived a shift of many eras and rulers, and political, civil, and religious criminals were serving prisoners at different times along with heretics, drunkards, and prostitutes. Prison history is rich in scandals. So, in the Middle Ages, the payroll of supervisors was so scanty that they found an alternative way to make money – for money, prisoners could beat out tolerable living conditions. Food cost about twice as much as on the loose, but the free ration consisted of water and stale bread, so the poor were forced to sell their last property and even their clothes in order not to die of hunger. On the other hand, for a certain fee, the supervisors could even let a man go to work, while women were allowed to engage in prostitution. Also in the history of the prison, there were two arson attacks: during the riots in 1450, all prisoners were released, and the prison was burned to the ground, but after the suppression of the uprising was rebuilt. After the second arson in 1780, the prison was never restored.
Nowadays, the museum has partially recreated the interiors of the oldest version of Klink prison, with dark cameras, instruments of torture and other archaeological relics, and chilling stories are told to visitors.
4. Hoalo, Vietnam
In 1869, the French built the Maison Centrale prison in Hanoi to contain political prisoners who opposed the French authorities. Initially, the prison’s capacity was 450 people, and after the expansion of 1913, the figure increased to 600, but throughout the whole history the building was constantly overcrowded. After the declaration of independence of Vietnam in 1954, the prison was closed, but found a new life ten years later during the Second Indochinese War, becoming the place of cruel imprisonment of American prisoners of war. The prison was given the new name Hoalo, which literally translates as Fire Furnace. More than two thousand prisoners of war were kept in prison in terrible conditions and were regularly tortured. Ironically, this name was not originally related to the conditions of detention, just a prison was located on the street Hoa-Lo, where there were many shops with wood stoves. Despite the harsh conditions and torture, some of which ended in death, none of the prisoners were openly called prisoners of war, because the United States did not declare war on Vietnam, so the Americans themselves sarcastically nicknamed the prison Hanoi Hilton.
In the mid-1990s, the prison was dismantled, leaving only a small part of the museum. The main part of the exhibition belongs to the colonial era, including a room with a guillotine and other sophisticated devices. The times of American prisoners of war are represented by an interrogation room and a room where prisoners were held in supposedly good conditions: the Vietnamese still deny the fact of ill-treatment of prisoners of war.
5. Devil’s Island, French Guiana
Devil’s Island or Devil’s Island – the smallest, but the most famous island of Cayenne, an overseas department of France, where cayenne is grown. For 90 years, beginning in 1852, Devil’s Island served as a convict prison for especially dangerous criminals, and political prisoners were kept there on a par with murderers and thieves. Due to the harsh conditions and the harsh tropical climate, the exiles’ chances for survival in Cayenne were very few, therefore this place was often called the “dry guillotine”. Most island prisons differ in that they are difficult to escape. In the case of Devil’s Island, this is especially true, since the water here is teeming with piranhas, and the nearest coast of the continent is overgrown with impassable jungle. However, in the entire history of the prison, there were several shoots
In 1965, the island was transferred to the Guiana Space Center, historic buildings were restored and opened to the public. Today, over 50 thousand tourists come to Devil’s Island annually.