Visits without prior booking back at Barcelona's infamous La Model prison

Free access to site of last Franco-era execution from Friday to Sunday

 “La Model” old prison located in the Barcelona neighborhood of Sants (By Julia Pérez)
“La Model” old prison located in the Barcelona neighborhood of Sants (By Julia Pérez) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

September 6, 2022 05:47 PM

Barcelona’s most historic prison, ‘La Model’, is bringing back its free tours without prior reservation, which were previously canceled following pandemic restrictions.

According to Barcelona’s City Council, visits can take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

The open doors will also coexist with free guided tours carried out regularly, but for these, people need to book a ticket in advance here.  

Visitors are welcome to discover the history of La Model by entering the prison’s most prominent places such as the courtyards, the galleries, and the cells.

The opening hours are on Fridays between 4 pm and 6 pm, while on Saturdays the tours are available to the public all day from 10 am to 6 pm, except during lunch hour (2 pm to 4 pm). On Sundays, the museum is open only from 10 am and 2 pm.

Free visits will not be held on September 11 and 24, December 25, January 1 and 6, April 7 and 9, and June 24, as these dates are public holidays.

La Model: a piece of contemporary history 

La Model was built in 1904, as a joint project of local architects Salvador Viñals, Josep Domènech y Estapà. The prison, located in the Sants neighborhood, stayed active for 113 years, only closing its doors a few years ago, in 2017

The building embodies one central polygonal body where the guards were located. This structure allowed extreme surveillance and later became the archetype for many other prisons in other parts of Spain and Latin America. 

During the Franco dictatorship, La Model saw over 1,000 executions, including Salvador Puig Antich's in 1974, the last one that took place under the regime. It also housed thousands of political prisoners, including trade unionists, activists, students, and antifascists. The prison was also the stage of protests and riots, like the one in 1984, when some prisoners managed to escape.  

The old building transformed into a museum, a cultural space, and an educational center constitutes a vital piece of the city’s contemporary history. La Model has also been the source of inspiration for movies, books and, more recently, an audio drama produced by the Catalan writer, Gerard Freixes Ribera,  for RTÈ Ireland.