The Old Prison in Swakopmund – Historical Building.
It is hard to believe that this fine colonial era building in Swakopmund is a prison. From the outside it looks like a hotel or lodge, until you read the read sign on the wall. It is affectionately referred to as the Old Prison but it is in fact called the Alte Gefängnis.
History of the Old Prison.
The Old Prison was designed by German architect Heinrich Bause and built by Otto Ertl in 1909. It bears a strong resemblance to the Old Court Building, which was also built by Otto Ertl. Built in a typical German colonial style , it is a striking building. This was one of the most interesting and beautiful prisons that I have ever seen. It is most definitely unusual in terms of its architectural appearance.
There is a tale doing the rounds that during an official visit by the South West Administration, an official exclaimed: “ I wouldn’t mind staying there!”. Local dignitaries replied, “That, your honour, is the prison.”
The Old prison was used for the housing of prison staff as well as for administrative purposes. Quarters at the back were used for prisoners.
In 1991 the prison was restored but had been well preserved over the years. It was proclaimed as a National Monument in 1973. Personally I don’t think that the building is of great historical importance but more important for its architectural beauty.
Where to find the Old Prison in Swakopmund?
The Old Prison is not situated in the town centre. It is in fact a little outside of town. Keep in mind that the prison is still in use and try to be discreet when taking photos.
Address: Garoeb Street, Swakopmund, Namibia.