La Modelo Museum Former Panopticon Prison
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La Modelo Museum Former Panopticon Prison

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Updated: Sep 15, 2021

by: Barcelona Travel Hacks

La Modelo Former Prison

Summary: Former prison Opened in 1904 and closed 2017 that was used for political prisoners during the era of Franco is now a museum.

Address: Carrer d'Entenca 155, Barcelona. 8029

Summary of Prices:

Train/Bus Fare Entry Ticket Additional Information
Adult Zone 1 T-casual FREE
Child T-familiar FREE
Group/Family Ticket:
Notes: Only open Saturdays 10h - 18h.
Free day:


About La Modelo Former Prison:

The former Prison occupies two city blocks in the Eixampla Left neighbourhood of Barcelona. It opened in 1904 was and used for political prisoners during the era of Franco and is symbol of Francoist repression in Catalunya.

Typically, 2 or 4 prisoners in a cell but at the end of the civil war up to 16 people. The prison has also been the location for the indoor execution of 42 prisoners by garrotte. After the civil war the run-down buildings were used as a men's prison up to its closure on 8th of June 2017.

The origins of the design of a circular prison date back to judge and philosopher Jeremy Bentham who in 1787 published works called the Panopticon which detailed how prisoners in an institution could be watched by one central security guard without being able to tell if they were being watched. La modelo adopts this idea. The reality is that the central security booth only sees the corridors and not the interior of the cells.

The prison was constructed between 1881 and 1904 following designs by architects Salvador Vials and Jose Domenech y Estapa. The complex has a radial floor plan with the central body covered by a cupula where the six radiating wings converge. The guards watch cabin is located in the centre of the body of the prison on the ground floor.

There are various annexes such as kitchens, dining rooms, store rooms, workshops, first aid centre, administration block, library, school, theatre, postal room and gym. Also, there was a garden and large outdoor courtyards. Next to the entrance there is a waiting room with booths to visit the prisoners.

The prison was inaugurated on the 9th of June 1904 as the tenth prison in Catalunya. The original name of the prison was The Cellular Prison, but it was given the informal name of La modelo because it was supposed to serve as the model for future reformation centres for prisoners.

Each one of the radial wings was used to house a different type of prisoner. 1: For first offenders. 2: For prisoners with good behaviour. 3: For repeat offenders with good behaviour. 4: For repeat offenders with behavioural difficulties. 5: For first offenders and prisoners that work in the prison. 6: For prisoners kept in isolation.

The prison has also been used to intern political dissidents during the dictatorships of Primo de Rivera and Franco. Examples of political prisoners include people who went on strike, protest movements etc. Also it was used to imprison homosexuals who were persecuted during the Franco dictatorship.

The prison has only been empty on two occasions: at the start and end of the Spanish civil war. On the 19th of July 1936 the 831 prisoners were liberated by anarchists. On the 23rd of January 1939, a few hundred prisoners were driven to the French border, some set free and some shot. On the 26th of January, hours before Francoist troops entered the city, the rest of the prisoners were set free.

There are 2 Attractions Nearby:

Visiting La Modelo Former Prison:

Now the Catalan government (La Generalitad) have plans to transform it into a museum and memorial about repression in Catalunya. Right now, it is free entry, and so far, pretty much in the state when it closed as a prison. Visits can be booked using the below link.

Getting To La Modelo Former Prison:

Nearest TMB METRO is Entenca on the blue line (L5).

Weather for Barcelona:

There are 2 PDf documents:

La Modelo to Las Arenas area map

PDF: La Modelo to Las Arenas area map
Author: Barcelona Travel Hacks

Metro Map Modelo Prison

PDF: Metro Map Modelo Prison


BCN07 - La Modelo Prison - Parc Joan Miro - Arenas Shopping Centre

City walk in Barclona in the Eixampla Right area passing via La Modelo former prison museum, Park Joan Miro and Arenas former bull ring shopping complex at plaza Espana.

Distance: 4.41 Km

Difficulty: Easy

Return Travel Fare: T-Casual Zone 1

Transport Network: Barcelona Metro

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Updated: Jun 3, 2021 by: Barcelona Travel Hacks

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