Urbanista #20 La Modelo Prison-Barcelona, Spain

La Modelo prison was constructed and build between 1881 y 1904 by architects Salvador Viñals y José Doménech y Estapá and closed in June 2017 after 113 years of service.

The plan of the prison is following classical rules of Panopticon.

The scheme of the design is to allow all inmates of an institution to be observed by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched.

Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all the inmates’ cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that they are motivated to act as though they are being watched at all times.

Plan of the prison. Yellow area is opened to public.

Thus, they are effectively compelled to regulate their own behavior. 

The name may also allude to the many-eyed giant Panoptes in Greek mythology, some of whose eyes were always awake, making him a highly effective watchman.

In 20th century the prison was used by the Franco regime to lock up political opponents, with executions taking place into the dictatorship’s later years.

Dozens of executions took place here, the ones with the so-called garrote vil (strangler) are the creepiest.

Salvador Puig Antich

The last execution with the garrote vil took place on March 2, 1974, to carry out the death penalty of the young activist Salvador Puig Antich, member of the movement Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación (MIL).

He was a Catalan militant anarchist whose unpopular execution under Spain’s Franco regime made him a cause célèbre for Catalan autonomists, pro-independence supporters, and anarchists.

After fighting the Franco regime with the Iberian Liberation Movement in the early 1970s, he was convicted and executed for the death of a policeman during a shoot out.

La Modelo prison has in fact already been open to the public, with some 25,000 people able to visit the detention center and see it in its untouched state.

This followed the closure of the prison on behalf of the Catalan Minister of justice, since deposed by the Spanish government, who ironically spent over a month in prison himself after being dismissed (although he was held in the Madrid region, in the Estremera prison). 

The closure was announced long ago: La Modelo had to be replaced by a new prison in the Zona Franca, but because of a lower capacity utilization, it was decided to distribute the prisoner and the staff over the other the Catalan prisons. On June 8, 2017, the last prisoners were taken from La Modelo and officially closed.

The panopticon of La Modelo is a protected structure and will not be demolished now that there are new plans for the old prison.

In fact, the municipality strives to preserve the structure of the old prison and to build new centers such as primary schools and cultural centers, surrounded by nature.

The prison Location on Wikimapia:

Urban Exploring rating:

Trespassing Status – Open only on special days

Accessibility – ∕⑩ In city Center

Dangers Level/Risk – ∕⑩ No risks

Spooky Level – /⑩ Many execution has been held here

Urbex Level – ①/⑩ – Beginners

Fun – /⑩ No fun here

Total: 2.2 / 10




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