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Did You Know? 8 big places that used to be prisons

Many a popular tourist attraction or hotel often times traces its history to not-so-glamorous beginnings.

  • Published:
play (Lagos Freedom Park)

It's not unusual to see a building and admire its great size and structure but ever stopped to think what history lies beneath the walls?

Many a popular tourist attraction or hotel often times traces its history to not-so-glamorous beginnings.

Here are 9 popular places around the world which used to be prisons.

  1. Freedom Park, Lagos: In the recent past, Freedom Park has become the go-to place for live music, spoken word, drama, dance and other such cultural/artsy events. But before this renaissance, Freedom Park used to be Broad Street Prison which was used during the colonial era. Now it boasts a museum, art gallery, ponds, fountains, shops and restaurants.

  2. Hostel Celica, Ljubljana, Slovenia: Hostel Celica may be one of Slovenia's most popular hostels now, but once upon a time it was a Yugoslavian military priosn. A creative redesign of the place means guests still sleep behind bars. The former prison is also home to an art gallery with a cultural program that includes regular concerts, workshops, poetry readings and philosophical debates.

  3. Cultural Park of Valparaiso, Chile: Formerly known as the Valparaiso Prison, this place was used to detain political prisoners during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. It was closed in 1999 and re-opened in 2013 as the Cultural Park of Valparaiso offering a mixed bag of activities, from rotating gallery exhibitions in the old cell blocks to classes to live theater and dance in a modern 307-seat theater. It's also home to an expansive public park with newly planted trees and great views out over the Pacific Ocean below.

  4. Pentridge Prison, Melbourne, Australia: Built in 1851, the Pentridge Prison was decommissioned in 1997 and converted to an event centre which hosts everything from weddings to fashion shows.

  5. play (CNN)

    Centro Cultural Antigua Carcel - Le Crac, Palencia, Spain: Still maintaining a penal feel, this former prison now serves as a cultural centre of sorts. It also boasts a library and classrooms offering lessons in art and music.

  6. Museum of Belize, Belize City: This former prison now serves as a museum which houses exhibits spanning thousands of years from the reign of the Maya to modern-day Belize.

  7. play (CNN)

    Four Seasons Istanbul, Sultanahmet, Turkey: The next time you visit the Four Seasons in Istanbul, you should know that it once housed prominent artists like Aziz Nesin and Orhan Kemal and political dissidents like Mihri Belli.

  8. Louviers Music School, Normandy, France: This now famous music school served as a prison in the 18th and 19th centuries and got a new start in the 20th century when it reopened as a music school in 1990.


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