“What! This is a prison?” Said my American dorm mate as we watched a clip of Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” (2015).
Darn skippy shocked me too. And the reason it shocked us, was because prison in Norway was seen as a means to rehabilitate and not punish. Prisons throughout Scandanavia are like this (see some articles on Swedish prisons here, here and here).
But it was not always like this. Located a short distance away from the main islands of Stockholm is Långholmen. It is today an oasis in the city (and here), but it used to be something very different.
Långholmen in the 19th century was the island where exiles were sent to. It was the site of the Långholmen Central prison, a 500 cell large prison complex.
The prisoners were not given as much rights as prisoners in Scandanavia today, they had free time to explore the sun outside, but even then without contact with other prisoners.
Perhap the only time they had for human interaction was when they were working to dredge mud from the surrounding waterways. The island soon went from rocky and barren to fertile and arable. Merchant boats stopped by and ended up dropping seeds, such the Långholmen’s flora and fauna is unique in Stockholm.
The former prison is today a hotel and museum, honestly it sells becuase of its funkiness, although I do wonder how the rooms would feel seeing as these were formerly prison cells.
The marketing is well done though.
Other parts of the prison have been turned into a restaurant,
and even a public school.
It certainly was an oddity to me, although I’ve found out that prison hotels aren’t unique to this place. There are a number of well done ones such as in Oxford, Roemand in the Netherlands and New Lanark in Scotland. There’s at least no such places to my knowledge in Singapore.
Imagine if Changi Prison or Queenstown Prison in Singapore became hotels (I’m not linking the actual prison, but a scene from the Singapore movie Apprentice)…
Just the thought of it makes my hair stand on end.
It looks really elegant now, and I’d consider staying for the night (although the cost per night is way more expensive than I can afford) but I wonder if there are spooky stories about the place. It must have housed killers and all that, with a very oppresive air after all…
Hmm… I wonder if they are open on Halloween 😉
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