Craziest Jails Around the World


Some of the most exciting tourist destinations around the world are also the quirkiest. Checking out a little piece of history is always fun, and that’s what travelers find when they visit some of the world’s most interesting jails. Whether they are abandoned or still functioning, check out this list of the craziest jails around the world.

Alcatraz – San Francisco

Alcatraz is probably the best known and most visited jail of all time. It ceased to be used as an actual jail back in 1963 and now serves solely as a tourist destination and film set. Alcatraz is the only structure on a tiny island, and visitors have to take a small ferry from San Francisco to get there. The small island is commonly nicknamed “The Rock,” and there’s a lot for visitors to check out while they’re there. Alcatraz is full of rich U.S. history, so it’s a must-see prison destination.

Visit: Total cost comes to around $30. A ferry can be taken with Alcatraz Cruises, departing from Fisherman’s Wharf. Tours should be booked far in advance as they tend to sell out months ahead.

Eastern State Penitentiary – Philadelphia

Another famous prison in the United States, Eastern State Penitentiary closed its doors to inmates in 1971. This prison is best-suited for daredevils or fans of horror movies because there’s no denying that the halls are eerie, and some people think they may even be haunted. Nowadays, the prison is often used as a movie set and even a haunted house.

Visit: The prison is always open, but it’s best to book a tour online in advance. The cost is $14 for admission, or $16 if you buy it at the door.

Robben Island – South Africa

Just like Alcatraz, this jail had a whole island to itself. Robben Island is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well-known for holding Nelson Mandela for 18 years. The prison shut down in 1990 when apartheid finally came to an end in South Africa. However, the halls of the prison are still an interesting place to walk. Robben Island Museum was also built alongside the historical structures, offering an intriguing look at Mandela and many of the other political prisoners who lived on Robben Island.

Visit: Ferries go to Robben Island regularly every day, departing from Cape Town, the cost is about $30 for the ferry and admission.

Old Melbourne Gaol – Australia

This jail found in Melbourne, Australia was opened all the way back in 1842. Although it ceased to be used as a prison in 1929, the structure still stands, and many artifacts are remaining from those days. This prison was meant for the most notorious of Australia’s criminals- housing mostly murderers, serial killers, and the like. The most interesting thing to check out here is the death masks that remain from many of the inmates. Over 100 prisoners were executed at Old Melbourne Gaol, but beforehand, their heads were shaved, and a plaster mask of their head was made. These masks are still up for display at the jail.

Visit: Adult admission is $10, and Old Melbourne Gaol is open from 9:30-5:00 nearly every day.

In conclusion, jails are not the average tourist destination. But, for any traveler looking to mix it up a little bit and try something off the beaten path, these destinations are ideal. Some of these jails are best for history buffs, while some of them are definitely better suited for daredevils or risk takers. Why not check out an interesting part of your destination by checking out the local jail next time you’re on a trip?


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