Iceland Mag

10 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Reykjavík's old downtown prison is finally being closed, the building's future is undecided

By Staff

  • Skólavörðustígur prison There is nothing that indicates that the building is a prison. There are no visible guards, no fence and not even an exterior sign telling you what's behind those sturdy stone walls.

The old prison at Skólavörðustíg street will say goodbye to its last inmate at the end of this month. The building is located in Reykjavík’s main shopping and nightlife area. Its construction was finished in 1874 and for years it was one of the capital’s most grand buildings, serving additionally as the home to Iceland’s Supreme Court between 1920 and 1949. 


The prison yard The potential for this space is big. Will it become an outdoor market or a quiet museum garden, a retreat from the bustling shopping area all around? Photo/GVA

The historic building was deemed unsuitable as a prison some years ago but has been kept in service under an exemption. A new, modern and much bigger prison is being built just east of the capital, and will close its door behind its first inmates this coming autumn.

Read more: Inmates in Reykjavík's oldest jail need earplugs to help them sleep on weekends

The future of the Skólavörðustígur building is undecided but most likely it will become a combination of a museum, a restaurant and a retail space. Its stone exterior is protected and all interior changes will have to be accepted by The Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland

The one thing we know for certain is that its future will be much happier than its dark and sad past

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