The Greek Jail that Became a Library



The authorities on the island of Crete recently found an innovative way to reuse the former jail for the city of Chania, in order to make it useful for society once again.

The Cretans managed to convert their disused prison into a library which now houses the offices and legal volumes of the Chania Bar Association.

Turning the space into a fully-functional library required tackling problems caused by dampness and mildew as well as the erosion of the old building.

The old jail looked derelict even though it had served as a center for justice in Chania for decades.

After the transfer of the town planning files which were stored there to new facilities, and upon securing the necessary funds, work began to restore the building to its present form, proving that where there’s a will, there is also a way.

This is an absolutely necessary example for modern Greece, a country struggling between its inflexible bureaucracy and political incompetence.

The new library of the Chania Bar Association. Photo by AMNA

“This action is an example of how to make use of a public space. What is required is the will. The local authorities spent the sum of €150,000 to fully refurbish the space, which was given to the Bar Association,” Chania Deputy Regional Governor Apostolos Voulgarakis told the state-run AMNA news agency.

The transfer of the Bar Association’s headquarters to new facilities has also freed up space in the courthouse, creating an extra courtroom, which is speeding up the delivery of justice in the region which has a population of approximately 160,000.