Old City Prison (Bývalá káznice na Cejlu)

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  • Once used to hold and execute political prisoners

  • Stood across the street from St Anne's Chapel

  • Efforts underway to make it a creative culture centre

This building in Cejl Street served as a prison from 1784 to 1956

Though this prison was never as well known as the one at Špilberk Castle, its story is just as interesting. Its large building, originally with four wings, has been absorbed by adjacent buildings, but when construction began it was right on the outer edge of the Brno suburbs. It dates back to 1770 when a royal decree was issued to establish a prison for all of Moravia, and the foundation stone was laid two years later. In 1778, however, it became home not to prisoners but to 147 orphans from the Brno Jesuit college. In 1784, Emperor Joseph II closed the orphanage and the prison building started to serve its intended purpose, as convicts from Špilberk were moved there in the following decades. Its darkest era came with the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia under Nazi Germany and then again after 1948 when numerous political prisoners were interned and also executed there.

Several famous people were imprisoned there, including poet Petr Bezruč for a short time at the beginning of the 20th century. Another famous prisoner was poet and writer Zdeněk Rotrekl, originally sentenced to life imprisonment for an alleged conspiracy against the state. He was imprisoned at Cejl Street in 1951 before being moved to other correctional facilities and was eventually granted amnesty in 1962.

The prison served its original purpose until 1956. Afterwards, Moravské zemské muzeum (the Moravian Museum) was housed there until 2006. There are currently efforts to revive the site. The Tourist Information Centre of BRNO has been holding themed tours there and the premises are often rented out for special cultural events, such as exhibitions, workshops, theatre performances, concerts, and more. Brněnská filmová kancelář (the Brno Film Office) offers the former prison as an interesting location for shooting films. One possibility for the future is to establish a creative centre there with studios, exhibition spaces, workshops, a theatre hall, a cinema, a café, and more.

Address and contact

Bratislavská 68
602 00 Brno

+420 542 427 160