Presidio Modelo in Cuba is one of the most ghostly places in the world.


Presidio Modelo is an abandoned prison located near Nueva Gerona  – the capital of The Isle of Youth or Pinos Island, the biggest island in Cuba. It was built as a copy of the sinister Statesville Prison in Illinois State in the USA which is still functioning as a reformatory center for prisoners and recidivists. 

Presidio Modelo was finished during the second half of the 1820s. It is closed in 1967 and has been an abandoned and ominous place since then. Two of the most notable people in Cuban history – Jose Marti and Fidel Castro Ruz have served their sentences here in this prison and on this island.

Presidio Modelo used to be a prison with five spherical buildings for around4900 prisoners. It was a place for punishments and horror for criminals and all ordinary Cubans that dared to express patriotism which didn’t correspond with the pro-American Cuban government in the 30s and 40s of the last century. Each of the five circular buildings is equipped with 93 cells with two beds and a control center in the middle with warders ready to fire their machine guns in case of any disorder or escape attempts. After the end of Nazy Germany in 1945 two of the buildings are used for locking German and Japanese prisoners. Some of the Germans manage to escape and settle in South Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.  

One of the Cuban patriots Pablo de la Torrente fighting against the dictatorship of Jerardo Machado was also sent there. Eventually, he publishes 13 articles called „The Island of 500 murderers“ Ahora newspaper /translated as „Now“/ and later his book „Presidio Modelo“ devoted to the love of his life Tete Kazuzo who write him 500 letters for every day he spends in the prison. In May 1933 he was moved to the prison in Havanа and then released. He escapes from Cuba boarding the Spanish ship Christopher Columbus to New York where he continued his fight against Machado’s dictatorship.

Later, in 1953, Fidel Castro and 25 of his fellow revolutionaries are sentenced and spent here two years after their attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba in 1953 г. After their amnesty, they run away in  Мexicо to start the preparation of the Cuban Revolution. 

Here the time has stopped like nowhere else in Cuba… I managed to get in which is illegal since the buildings are crumbling down and it is dangerous. However, I managed also to make some unique photographs of the facades that have witnessed so much tragedy resounding in eternity with their dark shades and rotten iron bars… The scorching sun bit by bit wears away the grey brick witnesses of a tragic time.