The Top 10 Historic and Famous Prisons

famous prisons

Some of the world’s most famous prisons have been used as penal colonies to house people from all walks of life, including hardened criminals and those who opposed their country’s regime. Some were infamous for housing notorious inmates such as entertainment figures like Al Capone or Nelson Mandela; other facilities became increasingly barbaric over time until they reached an unrecognizable state due in part to these daring escape attempts which often left behind scars both physically & mentally on its prisoners.

A few select examples are given below:

Top 10: Hanoi Hilton

Hanoi Hilton

Though the Hoa Loa Prison had been a place of incarceration for Vietnamese political prisoners before America’s involvement in Vietnam, it soon became notorious as well-known figures such as Senator John McCain were incarcerated here. The Hilton Hotel opening in Hanoi only highlights how far this country has come since their time under French rule when citizens could be held indefinitely without trial or proven guilt–now they’re free to visit any destination on earth!

Top 9: Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a memorial to the people of Cambodia who were killed in Prince Sihanouk’s engineering project, “The Killing Fields.” The site was a former hit-list for Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge regime.

In 1975, the Khmer Rouge Regime converted a high school into Tuol Sleng prison. Prisoners were routinely tortured and executed as they confessed to any crime or conspirator charges that their torturers imposed on them in order to extract statements about culprits whom these individuals believed would enjoy impunity from justice if falsely accused under Pol Pot’s “re-education through labor” policy.

The Tuol Sleng prison, which operated for four years from 1977-1981 houses of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.Used as a memorial to commemorate those who were executed or died under suspicious circumstances within its walls during this time period – there are few known survivors outlasting both themselves and their captors at this site today!

Top 8: Port Arthur

Port Arthur

Port Arthur is a former convict colony in Tasmania, Australia. From 1833 until the 1850s it was home to some of Britain’s hardest criminals and rebellious inmates from other prisons- which made this island prison one tough place! Today you can still see many ruins that remain such as The Hospital (once used for quarantine), Insane Asylum with its creepy dungeons below ground level where patients were confined without light or sound while guards walked overhead enforcing silence using large wooden clubs known locally as “cat o’ nine tails.”

Top 7: Elmina Castle

Elmina Castle

The first European building in Africa to be built south of the Sahara, Elmina Castle was also home for over three hundred years (1492-1870) to people who were captured against their will and sold into slavery. By the 18th century there may have been as many as 30 thousand slaves passing through this door each year!

Top 6: Robben Island

Robben Island

The winds of Robben Island are said to have a different scent than the rest. It’s an interesting place for anyone who enjoys exploring and learning about history, but be prepared because it can get quite cold there!

The island of Robben Island is a popular tourist destination and can be reached by ferry from Cape Town. The prison served many functions over its history, including the leper colony in the 1800s before becoming known for housing political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela who spent 18 years here under Apartheid rule when it was called “The Rock.” Today you’ll find large African penguin colonies on this small archipelago off South Africa’s coast which has been preserved because UNESCO regards these islands are crucial breeding grounds to preserve our natural resources due to their preservation efforts – among them abundant wildlife populations like marine life found nowhere else worldwide!

Top 5: Goree Island

Goree Island

Goree Island is a picturesque island located in Dakar, Senegal. It’s the perfect place for relaxation with its white sand beaches and crystal clear water that makes you feel like you are back at home on vacation again!

The Maison des Esclaves, better known as the House of Slaves is just one place in Senegal where thousands upon thousand of slaves were held before being put on ships bound for America. For many African-Americans, this site has become an important pilgrimage to trace their roots back hundreds if not 1000s years ago!

Top 4: Chateau d’If

Chateau d'If

Chateau d’If in France is a place of macabre history. It was used to house political prisoners during the 18th century and served as an executioner’s scaffold for over three centuries until it opened its doors to tourists following an order from Louis XIV that deemed this structure “worthy” enough not just among other châteaux but also against military conflicts at one point or another throughout his reign (1661-1715).

Top 3: Devil’s Island

Once upon a time, there was this little island called Devil’s Island. It had such an interesting history, it started as a penal colony for especially bad criminals in 1845 but then later became also famous because of its tough days-long sentences and life on the islands where convicts were forced to live out their prison sentence (in some cases up until death!).

The Devil’s Island Penal Colony is a notorious prison that was home to everyone from political prisoners to hardened criminals. During its 94 year history, it became the site of many alleged escape attempts; those who attempted them faced death by piranha-infested rivers or thick jungles in French Guiana! This includes former inmate Henri Charrière whose autobiography tells about how he successfully escaped this infamous penal colony within his first two months there due mostly because no one else wanted him as their cellmate after being sentenced for murder.

Top 2: Tower of London

Tower of London

The Tower of London is a fascinating place that has been around since 1071. This historic landmark was the site for many important events in English history, such as being destroyed by fire and then rebuilt again!

The impressive architecture makes it worth visiting if you’re ever near central London – I enjoyed my time there very much when exploring this famous location on foot with friends who also thought similarly (she took pictures).

The Tower of London was once a prison that held some famous prisoners, including King Henry VI and Anne Boleyn. Today it serves as the British Crown Jewels’ home; its halls hold many ghost stories about these historical figures who are said to still haunt the building today!

Top 1: Alcatraz


Alcatraz was one of the most fascinating locations that I have ever been to. It’s a must-see for any history buff and has an amazing view overlooking San Francisco Bay, which is why it can be so hard not to stop taking pictures along your journey around this island prison!

In 1849, Alcatraz was created as the country’s first maximum-security minimum privilege prison. The location on an island surrounded by freezing water made it seem inescapable to those who attempted escape but 23 out of 36 men were caught or shot dead before they could get away; 5 are believed still be alive today with their bodies never found because there is so much ocean surrounding this rock!