List of Most Famous Prisons
(also known as "The Rock") is one of the most popular prisons in the world. From the moment of its creation in 1850 on a small rocky island in the San
Francisco Bay it held some of the most hardened and notorious United States criminals, most notably Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. As one of the
first "supermax" prisons, its remote location and increased security led to many popular tales about its inmates. During its active years, 36 men tried
to escape, 23 were caught, 8 died on the run, and five remaining are considered missing and drowned. This 1962 escape attempt remains to this day one
of the most popular prison escape stories of all time, with many people claiming that they managed to successfully escape. Currently Alcatraz remains
open as a tourist attraction.
is today remembered as one of the most infamous and deadly prisons in the world. Established by the French Emperor Napoleon III's government in 1852,
this small island penal colony in French Guiana remained in use until 1952. During its active years, this prison held various prisoners - from hardened
thieves and murderers to various political offenders (most notably 239 republicans who opposed Napoleon III's coup d'état). In total over 80
thousand prisoners were sent into the harsh and disease stricken conditions of that prison complex, and majority of them was forced to remain in French
Guiana even after their prison sentence was served. The best known prisoner that ever served on Devil's Island was falsely accused French army captain
Alfred Dreyfus who reveled to the world horrific conditions in this prison. Today, Devils Rock complex serves as a launch center for the space rockets.
is a famous military fortress and a prison in a Mediterranean that gained much attention and popularity after it was featured in the famous Alexandre
Dumas' adventure novel The Count of Monte Cristo. Built in 1531 by the orders of French King Francis I as a military outpost, this fortress soon became
destination for the political and religious prisoners. The custom of that time enabled wealthy prisoners to buy for themselves better treatment, but
less fortunate ones spent their sentences in grueling misery. Château d'If remained active as a prison until the end of the 19th century, and is
currently one of the most popular prison tourist attractions in the world.
Tower of London
has managed to engrave itself into popular culture of the English nation where the phrase "sent to the Tower" even today carries its meaning of being
imprisoned. Serving as a prison from 1100 to the middle of the 20th century, this famous prison held some of the most famous prisoners of all time -
Sir Thomas More, King Henry VI, Rudolph Hess and the wives of the of King Henry VIII. According to the popular legends, this structure (which is today
reconfigured to be tourist attraction) is according to many still haunted by the ghosts of the countless victims who died under the oppression of the
English ruling class.
is a prison complex located of the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. After serving as a refugee camp for a people afflicted with leper, this island was
converted into a prison and received majority of its prisoners during the time of apartheid regime. Some of the most notable figures that served their
sentence as a political prisoners were Nelson Mandela and Kgalema Motlanthe.
represents one oldest European building that still stands south of Sahara. Conceived as a trading post, this structure served for over 3 centuries as a
prison and one of the most important holding areas of slaves that were captured in Africa. In the horrific conditions of this prison African slaves
were often held in the groups of 200 per cell, and during the peak years 18th century Atlantic slave trade over 30 thousand slaves passed
through this prison on their way to the New World.
was one of the largest penal colonies of British Empire in Tasmania, Australia. During the middle of 19th century, this prison was
destination of the most hardened criminals from England and Ireland. Currently this prison serves as an open museum and tourist destination.
Hoa Loa Prison
(also known as Hanoi Hilton) was a French prison that was used by North Vietnamesegovernment to hold American prisoners of war during
Vietnam War. According to the reports of the prisoners, Vietnamese jailers used torture, starvation, and murder to subdue them. Some of the most
notable figures that spent time in that prison were US Senator John McCain, future U.S. Vice-Presidential candidate James Stockdale and decorated U.S.
Air Force pilot Bud Day. Today, this prison serves as a hotel under the name Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel.
San Quentin Prison
is one of the most notorious prison facilities in the United States. Since it opened in 1852, the horrendous state in which prisoners were held there
have led its newly appointed warden Clinton Truman Duffy to implement prison reform in 1940s. Prior to that, inmates were regularly punished with
solitary confinement, head shaved to the skin and irregular meals. Today, San Quentin holds the largest number of death row inmates in the USA and
still represents one of the most dangerous places to serve prison sentence.
Bang Kwang Prison
in Thailand if often thought to be one of the worst active prison facilities in the world. As Thai culture does not permit rehabilitation and intensive
medic care of prisoners, inmates in this prison have to endure very harsh conditions. Every inmate is chained with the leg irons, and death row
prisoners are notified of their execution only 2 hours before they are taken.
La Sabaneta Prison
in Venezuela is without doubt one of the most notorious and dangerous prisons in the entire world. Misery created my murders, violence, underplayed
staff and lack of medical care paled in comparison to the outbreaks of cholera which killed over 700 people, and fueled riots which caused death of
over 100 inmates in horrific massacre in 1994. Violence inside prison walls has reached such levels, that prison guards have left inmates to live
is today remembered as a prison in which thousand inmates died among incredible violence that came both from inmates and police that killed them even
when they were unprovoked. Fueled by incredibly harsh conditions, sickness, aids, violence, massacre that hit this prison in 1992 brought the death of
hundreds of prisoners who already surrendered to the police. During its 46 years of history, it is thought that over 1300 inmates died inside its
walls. Finally, after countless years of appeals of Amnesty International, Carandiru Prison was closed in 2002.