- 06 Jan
Seeing what’s it like behind the bars is not a fantasy that many people share, but as weird as it sounds, there’s something exciting about having a (very small) taste of what a prison is like. Those who are interested in history, for example, will surely get a kick out of visiting famous prisons-turned-museums, and fans of crime movies are likely to appreciate the thrills as well. It doesn’t matter what kind of prison you visit, they all have a higher or lower level of gruesomeness, but that’s just part of their ‘charm’. So for the travelers with a passion for the creepy and scary, here’s a list of the most gruesome prison tours in the world.
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, US
The Eastern State Penitentiary might be smaller than the Alcatraz, but the former residents are no less famous. Al Capone has spent some time here, and bank robber Willie Sutton too. The prison functioned from 1829 until 1971, and even Charles Dickens visited it once. ESP is one of the first so-called modern prisons in the US, with separate cells for each inmate, arranged in a wagon wheel shape. There are special guided tours that will tell you about the history of the place, and there’s also an interesting art exhibition.
Old Melbourne Gaol, Melbourne, Australia
The Old Melbourne Gaol is one of the most famous prisons Downunder, and supposedly the most haunted as well (as the tour guides will tell you). Among its notable inmates is Ned Kelly, a bushranger who was hanged at the prison in the 1880’s, and whose death mask and revolver you can see on display. In addition to tours, there are some interesting live performances too at the prison.
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, Ireland
Kilmainham Gaol was opened in 1796, so naturally it housed participants to most of Ireland’s important historical events. Many people were executed at the prison throughout its long history, especially leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. In the 19th centuries, even children as young as 7 were imprisoned here. The last person released from the prison before it closed down in 1924 was Éamon de Valera, former president of Ireland.
Hoa Lo Prison, Hanoi, Vietnam
Hoa Lo Prison was opened in 1886, while Vietnam was still part of the French colony of Indochina. During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese kept the American POWs here, and even US Senator John McCain spent a few years in Hoa Lo. The prisoners sarcastically called the prison the Hanoi Hilton, but even today, after having been closed down for years, it still looks frightening.
Karosta Prison, Liepāja, Latvia
Karosta Prison was used by the Tsarist Russians for a while, and then by the Soviets and the Nazis later on. The prison functioned until 1997, and now it is a museum, but if you are brave enough, you can skip the regular tour and become a prisoner for a few hours, or even stay the night in a dark and gloomy cell. The experience is pretty realistic, and you get no refunds if you bail out before your time’s up.
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