The Old Provincial Prison of Malaga

Plants in the Courtyard

Today butterflies flit where once people despaired and lost their lives. Now the only things that move through the overgrown courtyards and patios of Malaga’s Old Provincial Prison are stray cats and flowers ruffling daintily in the breeze and pushing their inexorable way into the sun-filled peace of this highly charged space.

Antigua Prision Provincial de Malaga

The doors of Malaga’s old Provincial Prison are closed and barred now.

Provincial Prison Door

And nature continues to open a pathway through its abandoned walls.

Purple Flowers in Provincial Prison

Flowers and Locked GateThe former Provincial Prison of Malaga opened its doors in 1933, before the eruption of the Spanish Civil War, and its original purpose was similar to that of any prison: to house the usual delinquents and criminals, petty thieves, murderers, con artists, etc.

Courtyard and Guard TowerAfter the Spanish Civil War began, however, it took on a much more sinister taint. At the start of the war, Malaga was in the hands of the Republicans, the current leaders of the country at that time. Many Nationalists were held in the Provincial Prison as political prisoners, until Franco’s forces seized a hold of the city in 1937.

Guard Tower Against the SkyFranco’s bloody forces grabbed thousands of their enemies and confined them within these four square walls surrounded by guard towers and high fences, where they remained until the day of their executions.

Guard Tower and GrafittiPolitical prisoners were brought out to see the light of day one final time before being executed in public in front of thousands of on-lookers.

Plants in the WindowAfter the Civil War ended, political prisoners still filled up the ranks of those held within this small space for several years, until eventually the prison regained its original use, as a place to deprive the usual petty delinquents of their freedom.

And life went on within its walls.

Plants in the CourtyardThe prison was witness to a violent riot in 1985, where presumably some guards and police officers were killed. No one knows what became of the prisoners involved in the riot, but I doubt that they enjoyed a particularly optimistic fate.

Abandoned CourtyardThe Old Provincial Prison of Malaga began to lose its importance in 1991, when the New Provincial Prison was inaugurated in Alhaurín de la Torre, in the suburbs of the city. And finally, in 2009, this former architectural splendour closed its doors for good.

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15 thoughts on “The Old Provincial Prison of Malaga

  1. Hi, I landed on your blog because I have looked for the old prison of Malaga. By “mistake” I landed their for 6 weeks in 1984. Reading your story is impressive and brings back memories. I need to go back one day. I headed about the the issues in 1985. Some prisoners wanted to escape and shot a guard in the head because he didn’t wanted to open the door… then the regime changed. Before it was quite relaxed if you kept a low profile. I was a huge experience for a 19 year old boy. I have seen a world in this world. 30 persons in one cell (I was with the foreners), with all their stories, like in a movie. I still remember a lot of them. 3 beds high, and each cell was “managed” by a Spanish “Capo”. At least it was nice weather.. The picture of the red entrance door, is still in my mind when I walked through and left the prison, and closed behind me. After that I have finished my studies and I have grown up and live in France. Thanks again for your story and pictures!


    • Oh thanks for dropping by my blog Antonio. Wow you’ve really got some experiences under your belt. Yes, I’ve always wondered about the personal stories that people who were actually held in that prison could tell. Fortunately it’s a new regime now, and these things don’t happen anymore, at least not in Spain. Cheers!


      • Yes Robert, but changes always take a long time. It takes people a long time to change, it takes countries and regimes a long time to change. The Spanish mentality is still very closed to anything from outside its borders even today.


    • Oohh thank you for dropping by my blog Robert! The abandoned prison is actually within the city, in a rather depressed neighbourhood where no one ever pays much attention to it and most residents ignore its significance and its past. It’s on calle Ortega y Gassett. It just sits there with no fanfare, nothing to indicate it has any historical significance at all. But that makes it easier to take photos of it hehe.


    • Supposedly they have plans to do something with it, at least there’s an official looking sign outside to that effect. However seems no one can make up their minds what to do with it and it’s just sitting there. Thanks for dropping by!


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  6. In the early 70s, as one of “The “Drifters” (James A. Michener), I spent three months in this prison for 137 gr Marihuana. I got free on bail and didn’t return to Spain for about 25 years.


  7. Interesting. It gives me chills to think about those times. Especially like the monochrome pictures. Really give a feel to the piece – slightly sinister and the drabness of prison life.


    • Thank you for dropping by, Linda. Prisons are such bleak, desperate, harsh places. I can’t imagine being confined to such a place knowing that you’ll only come out when it’s time for your execution.


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