The 50 Craziest Prisons and Jails in the World

49. Kresty Prison

Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Notable Residents: Leon Trotsky
Amenities: Features an internal museum dedicated to the history of the prison

The prison's origins date back to the 1730s, when it was used as a warehouse for all of the wine in Saint Petersburg. The Emancipation reform of 1861 created the need for a formal prison, and in 1867, the complex was remodeled into a prison for men and women. However, the prison quickly became too small to hold incoming prisoners, so a new prison was built. Inspired by the Philadelphia system, architect Antony Tomishko built a new prison that was finally completed at the end of the 19th century. It was one of the first buildings in Russia to use electric lighting, sufficient heating, and ventilation. During the days of Imperial Russia, the prison was used to hold political prisoners and common criminals. The prison was stormed during the February Revolution in 1917; prisoners were freed and all paperwork was destroyed.

Following the February Revolution, the prison became home to well-known police officers and ministers of the Tsarist government, and more political prisoners were dumped into Kresty following the October Revolution. The prison had a research facility, where inmates were used as both engineers and researchers, and torpedo boats used by the Soviet Navy during World War ll were developed here. In modern times, it was used more for detaining prisoners before trials, and was ten times over its capacity during the 1990s. Judicial reform made it so that prisoners could only be detained prior to their trials if the court approved it, and no more than six prisoners can stay in a cell intended for solitary confinement. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to relocate the prison to a new facility and transform the current building into a hotel. The prison is considered a protected architectural landmark, so any alterations attempts may prove to be extremely difficult.

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