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La Modelo Museum Former Panopticon Prison

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

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

by: Barcelona Travel Hacks

Views: 793

About La Modelo Museum Former Panopticon 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.

2 Attractions Nearby

Visiting La Modelo Museum Former Panopticon 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.

Accessibility, mobility & Clothing for La Modelo Former Prison

Most museums ask you to deposit rucksacks and large bags in the locker area. Museums that do not have lockers do not allow entry with large bags but normally allow people inside with small handbags and 10L rucksacks.

Bicycle anchorage points outside la La Modelo in Carrer de Entenca.

Access from the ground floor to the first floor is exclusively via stairs, However there is still plenty to see on the ground floor but note that there are some changes in level that involve three or four steps.

Day Trip Rucksack

Day Trip Rucksack

Small 10L day trip and museums rucksack

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0.8L water bottle

0.8L water bottle

Reusable, refillable 1L water bottle.

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Emergency Poncho

Emergency Poncho

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Summary of Prices

Train/Bus Fare Entry Ticket Additional Information Train/Bus Fare Entry Ticket Additional Information Adult Zone 1 T-casual FREE Child T-familiar FREE Free Entry? Free Entry Thursday & Friday 16:00h to 19:00h, Saturday 10:00h to 14:00h & 16:00h to 19:00h, Sunday 10:00h to 14:00h

Getting to La Modelo Museum Former Panopticon Prison

Address: Carrer d'Entenca 155, Barcelona. 08029

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

Public Transport Guide

Documents for La Modelo Museum Former Panopticon Prison

Click on any one of the 2 PDFs to view in full screen and download.


La Modelo to Las Arenas area map

Author: Barcelona Travel Hacks


Metro Map Modelo Prison


Wikiloc Trail for La Modelo Museum Former Panopticon 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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