As society has evolved and progressed, we’ve come to adopt more humane practices when it comes to dealing with convicts. But the prisons still standing from the last century and beyond are a reminder of how grim life could be, especially if you were a criminal.
A tour through the likes of Alcatraz or Old Charleston Jail provides a glimpse into the sad lives of inmates, and can also lead some visitors to believe that ghosts do exist. Nothing can make hairs stand stiff quite like an abandoned prison. Check out these 10 super creepy abandoned prisons that you can actually go to (if you dare).
10 Old Charleston Jail, USA
The Old Charleston Jail should definitely be on your bucket list if you like anything creepy. Built in Charleston, South Carolina in 1802, the prison was active until 1939, but the building still stands today as a tourist attraction.
It is most famous for housing the convict Lavinia Fisher, who is thought by many to have been the first female serial killer in the history of the United States. While the legends about her crimes are debated, it is recorded that Fisher was part of a gang of outlaws.
9 HM Pentridge Prison, Australia
Constructed in 1850 to hold 650 prisoners, Her Majesty’s Pentridge Prison in Victoria, Australia ended up being quite crowded. Before it shut down in 1997, it was housing 1000 inmates, who were tasked with the job of building a road between the cities of Melbourne and Sydney.
The remains of Ned Kelly, Australia’s most infamous outlaw, were found in a mass grave at Pentridge in 2009. Kelly was executed at the Old Melbourne Gaol and transferred to Pentridge after his death. Following his identification, his bones were buried again at the discretion of his relatives.
8 Eastern State Penitentiary, USA
Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is one of the most famous American prisons that you can still visit. Established in 1829, the prison was operating for nearly 150 years and soon earned a reputation for the cruelty of the staff.
Prisoners were said to be subjected to violence, sometimes having cold water thrown on them before being left to dry in the winter air. Today, it’s marketed as a haunted property and is especially popular on Halloween, when visitors claim they hear the sounds of ghosts lingering in the building.
7 Sinop Fortress Prison, Turkey
Said to be one of the oldest prisons in Turkey, Sinop Fortress Prison is another jail that’s thought to be haunted. Shut down in 1997 after running for more than a century, the prison served as the backdrop for years of anguish.
It was abandoned after all its inmates were moved to a new prison, but because there were souls who died inside the walls, many believe that Sinop Fortress is haunted. It is open to the public as a tourist attraction, but not everyone is brave enough to go inside.
6 Isle Of Procida Jail, Italy
The jail on Italy’s Isle of Procida began accepting inmates in 1815, but it was actually built in 1563 as a castle. The prison forced horrible conditions upon the prisoners, who had to reside in a building that was more than 200 years old at the time and in the process of rotting.
The prison lasted all the way until 1988 when it was officially closed. You can still visit the building, Palazzo d’Avalos, today, but you have to book in advance. Along with the old prison cells, you’ll see the guards’ barracks, the courtyard, and the medical center.
5 Bodmin Jail, England
Cornwall’s Bodmin Jail is thought to be one of the most haunted locations in England. Between 1785 and 1909, no less than 55 executions took place within the walls of Bodmin, and some believe that the souls of those who lost their lives still roam the grounds.
A particularly notable prisoner who was executed in this prison was Selina Wadge, who was hanged for the murder of her child. Today they run after-dark tours at Bodmin, on the off-chance that Wadge’s ghost might appear. There is also now a restaurant on site, in case you like your fright with a side of the chef’s signature dish: wild boar.
4 Alcatraz Federal Prison, USA
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Alcatraz. Arguably the most notorious prison in the U.S., Alcatraz is surrounded by the waters of San Francisco Bay. Some of the most infamous convicts in American history were imprisoned in Alcatraz, including George “Machine Gun Kelly” Barnes, Sam Shockley and Al Capone.
It wasn’t until 1963 that it stopped operating as a prison, and today serves as one of the most sought-after tourist experiences in San Francisco. Both day and night tours run in the prison.
3 Old Adelaide Gaol, Australia
Housing around 300,000 prisoners over its 147 years as an active prison, the Old Adelaide Gaol now serves as inspiration for ghost stories in South Australia. Men, women, and children were all kept here.
45 executions were performed at the Adelaide Gaol, the last hanging being performed in 1964. Corporal punishment was used on offenders, and difficult prisoners were kept in solitary confinement. The last whipping occurred in 1964, and whippings were abolished in the prison in 1976.
2 Kilmainham Gaol, Ireland
Kilmainham Gaol was built in 1796 to replace the old jail, going on to serve as a prison for 128 years. During that time, some of Ireland’s most prominent prisoners were kept within its cells, including Charles Stewart Parnell and Robert Emmet. The youngest prisoner on record was only seven years old and probably sentenced for petty theft.
The conditions in the prison were horrible for inmates. The Kilmainham Gaol website reveals that prisoners were kept in the tiny cells in groups of five, with only one candle between them to last them two weeks.
1 Garcia Moreno Prison, Ecuador
Ecuador’s Garcia Moreno Prison was not the place to be if you were claustrophobic. Or if you didn’t like crowds. Although it was built to hold 300 prisoners at a time, it often reached eight times that, squeezing 2,500 people within its cells. In 2014, it was finally shut down.
Guided tours of the prison now operate, and visitors can still see the murals and messages that the prisoners left behind on the walls. These often give a glimpse into the miserable lives of those sentenced to do time at Garcia Moreno.