Horsens Prison Museum
Horsens, Central Denmark Region, Denmark
Horsens State Prison in central Denmark closed its doors in 2006 and was the home of some of the Nordic nation’s most high-profile criminals. FÆNGLSET, the state-of-the-art museum with a staggering collection of items tells the story of Denmark’s most famous prison.
About Horsens Prison Museum
Horsens Statsfængsel – Horsens State Prison – in the central Danish town of Horsens is an imposing building that dominates the entire area. It was opened in 1853 (with sister prison Vridsloselille opening in 1859) after widespread prison reforms were introduced three years earlier.
Horsens Prison Museum history
The original intention of Horsens was to house Denmark’s worst prisoners but relatively soon after in 1875, it essentially became a correctional facility, admitting inmates on shorter sentences for lesser crimes. Unusual for 19th century European and American prisons whereas for the most part it was the other way round.
Conditions were brutal and many of the prisoners decided that an escape attempt or suicide was preferable to staying put. Some even went as far as trying to kill guards or fellow inmates in order to get a death sentence; such was the depth of feeling towards the cold, grey walls.
After the prison closed its door in 2006 (and the inmates were moved to the State Prison of East Jutland), the prison was transformed into an incredible museum taking visitors through more than 150 years of Denmark’s penal history.
Horsens Prison Museum today
Visitors to Horsens Prison Museum can see the axe used to behead Jens Nielsen in 1892, the last Dane executed for a crime committed in peacetime. Discover the incredible story of Carl Lorentzen who took a year to dig an 18 metre-long tunnel under the prison yard and in a Shawshank-esque trick, hid the dirt in his socks, leaving a post-escape note for prison guards reading simply, ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way.’
You can also see the huge pants owned by Danish politician Peter Alberti who pleaded guilty to embezzling 18 million Krone of government money in 1908 (worth over 1 billion DKK or roughly £130 million today), as well as cells through the ages, the biker gang section, the prison chapel and thousands of objects that tell the fascinating story of Horsens through the eyes and ears of those there every day: the inmates and guards.
Getting to Horsens Prison Museum
For those driving, there is plenty of parking opposite the prison. Otherwise, public transport makes it easy to reach Horsens Prison Museum. Buses 9, 13, 107, 202 and 671 stop within a 5 minute walk from the prison museum. The main train station with links to Aalborg and Korsør is also within walking distance.
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Denmark Historic Sites
Explore the Viking past at Jelling or visit the setting of Shakespeare's Hamlet at Kronborg Castle. Denmark's historic sites are wide-ranging and beguiling.