The most beautiful jails in the world

When we think about jails we do think about bad places. We think about dark cells with very dangerous people and very angry guards. We think that these places only deserve a visit in museums or movies. But what are they really like inside and outside? How are they designed? Are they designed to make people feel comfortable or uncomfortable?

Kenny Slaught took the time to do a little research on these amazing construction marvels, and he found out that there are some very beautiful jails and that they could be even very eye-catching. Some of them have state of the art technology and architecture, and some of them are beautiful on the outside and functional on the inside.

Let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful jails in the world from California to Norway and from New Hampshire to Russia. These places are not usually associated with beauty but with mystery and power and dark places. These jails can be a way to appreciate life itself with its ups and down, with its beauty in strange places. These are the jails that caught our eye and that we want you to know about.

Alcatraz Prison

Our first and most well-known prison is Alcatraz Prison. Alcatraz Island, within the San Francisco bay, used to be z jail until 1963 and it is still one of the most famous prisons in the whole world.   The jail is located within 22 acres of the 47-acre island and it is covered with mystery and romance. The walls were perfectly built to never escape and the landscape, which is beautiful with blue skies and amazing oceanic vibes, reminded the inmates that the only way of getting out alive was through the justice system. Today, the jail is a National Park and offers tours for tourists and locals alike.

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Image courtesy of Alejandro Forero Cuervo at

Kresty Prison

Kresty Prison is located in St. Petersburg, Russia. This jail has the capacity to have 10,000 prisoners at the same time. Vladimir Putin closed the jail and relocated it and made the building a national building and it was sold for auction. The designs are limited but the rumors are that it will be converted into a hotel.  The architecture is amazing and it reminds the viewer about the Medici palaces in Florence in Italy. The outside is amazing but the inside was overcrowded and conditions were less than human.

Kresty Prison_architecture_Kenny Slaught_jails
Image courtesy of Paul at

Halden Prison

This jail was recently modernized and it is considered as one of the most humane prison in the whole world.  It is located in Norway and its interior is just plain interesting. The designers spent time, effort and money to make it as livable as possible. For example, there is photography, art pieces, and light installations in order to ease the psychological stress that imprisonment brings. In fact, there is a mural by Norwegian graffiti artist Dolk that gives the prison a sense of humor. The authorities expect that the art and all the creative outlets such as drawing classes and wood workshops give the inmates the importance they deserve even though they committed a mistake.  The rooms, not cells, include very nice bathrooms with ceramic tiles, mini-fridges, and flat-screen TVs. It is a bit hard to believe it is a high-security prison.

Justice Center Leoben

This state of the art prison is located in Leoben, in Styria, Austria.  Since the most widespread philosophy is that jail itself is like a psychological nightmare or some see it as a mental prison without end that restricts your environment and possibilities, this jail, similar to the Halden prison which was mentioned before, is experimenting with different approaches including luxury spaces that are architecturally attractive. They even use modern furniture that could be similar to the brand IKEA. This prison is changing the rules of the game by giving the inmates good spaces where they can “think about what they did”. This Austrian jail houses only minimum and moderate security inmates.

Fremantle Prison

This prison is located in Western Australia. In the past, it depended on the inmates´ work to be supplied with clean water. Fremantle Prison was built on a land of about 36 acres on a limestone quarried site. The prison camp was responsible for creating limestone aquifers, which supplied the prison with good water. The prison took its first prisoners in 1860 and it remained open until the year 1991.

Chillon Castle

This jail is in Switzerland, in the Lake Geneva area. It is weird enough that it is a castle, but is has a reason. It used to be a medieval fort, a military enforcement station, and a prison. It has even been a family house.

These 6 jails are amazing places to go visit, but not to stay for long.

Remember to also read this article on the most impressive hospitals in the world


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