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Barcelona to open infamous Model prison to public in 2018

Council aims to unveil memorial area this year, with more uses for historic complex planned for 2020


03 January 2018 07:07 PM


ACN | Barcelona

Barcelona city council is looking to open the recently closed Model prison to the public in 2018. The former men’s prison in the city centre, which was finally closed down last year, some 113 years after it opened, was a symbol of Francoist repression in Catalonia.

The city council is now planning to carry out renovation work on the infamous prison, gradually opening different areas of the complex to the public. From the middle of 2018, the idea is for a memorial area to open, along with a program of social and cultural activities.

Meanwhile, a process of public participation will determine how the other areas of the prison should be used, with the local authority aiming to build affordable housing in the complex. A final decision on the prison’s future will be taken in 2019, with work set to begin in 2020.

Before that, some areas of the prison will open to the public, with signs explaining its historical and architectural significance. 'La Model' was used by the Franco regime to lock up political opponents, with executions taking place into the dictatorship’s later years.

The'La Model' 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). 

A preschool for around 50 children already opened on the prison’s premises this academic year, but a 2009 agreement with local residents envisages many more uses for the prison. Among them is an old people’s home, student accommodation, and a sports centre, although it is unlikely that all the agreed plans for the complex will go ahead.

Nevertheless, the local authority still has plans for a 14,000 square meter green zone, 150 council flats and the aforementioned memorial area. The city council’s budget for this term has set aside some 4.9 million euros for the project.


  • The grounds for the former Model prison in Barcelona on October 24 2017 (by Júlia Pérez)

  • The grounds for the former Model prison in Barcelona on October 24 2017 (by Júlia Pérez)