The Prison

This prison was built in the late 1800s, in a period when suddenly many prisons were built. Back then it stood at the outskirts of the city, but the city expanded and now it’s surrounded by houses. The biggest and oldest part is the men’s ward, which is a cross-shaped building that could house over 500 inmates. Three wings contained cells and facilities, the fourth wing contained a chapel. A smaller building for young inmates stands disconnected, it had room for about 70 inmates. Some transitional houses, with the purpose of preparing inmates to re-enter society, stood around the prison.


In World War 2 the prison was used for the prosecution of people opposing to the National Socialism regime. In 1944 the prison was hit by an Allied bombing. The inmates were quickly transfered to a nearby hospital but eventually it was hit too, killing more than 30 inmates. A new, bigger and more modern prison was built in the early 2000s and the old prison was abandoned. According to the latest plans it will be demolished and replaced by houses, but because of financial discussions no action is taken yet.

Luckily during my visit there was almost no vandalism yet, but sadly almost no decay too. Normally I avoid such places but I did enjoy this one. Walking through a prison is a chance you don’t get very often (that is, when you’re not a criminal). A well-known prison in Belgium was trashed before I got the chance to pay it a visit so this was an awesome alternative.