Built in 1896, the Security Pavilion at Hospital Miguel Bombarda was a facility built to imprison those who had committed crimes and functioned until 2000.
Designed by the architect José Maria Nepomuceno, it is one of only six panoptic buildings ever built in the world (!). Its circular shape allowed for a single watchman, standing in the centre to have an unobstructed 360º view of all the inmates at the same time.
Nowadays it is a space that pays tribute to the mentally-ill people, aimed at fighting its misconceptions through the exhibition of the collection of the country’s first psychiatric hospital – Hospital de Rilhafoles, which later became the Hospital Miguel Bombarda.
More than 4000 works of outsider art, like paintings, sculptures and sketches, are housed in the panopticon.
Albeit being a really interesting and unique place in Portugal, it remains a relatively hidden gem to the most. It only opens twice a week (wednesdays and saturdays) and you need to book your “tour”, guided by the local security guard, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Shhhh, don’t spread the word that much! 😉