FOLLOW in the footsteps of 25,000 prisoners with over 150 years of history in the North’s only Victorian-era prison.  

Opened in 1846, the gaol housed women, children and men during its active years before closing its doors in 1996.  The Crumlin Road Gaol Experience is a self-guided tour that takes you through its history with the help of state-of-the-art technology.  Video, holograms and augmented reality are all employed to tell the story of one of Belfast’s most significant buildings.

Designed by Charles Lanyon, the building itself is an intrigue of architecture; with wings radiating from the circle. The design itself highlights Victorian values on punishment and the separate system. Pentonville Prison in London is said to have greatly influenced Lanyon’s design.  

The idea behind this principle was to eradicate communication between prisoners and make them easier to control.  The guards being able to observe all wings from a central point, the circle. The tunnel runs from the old Crumlin Road Courthouse to the Gaol is accessible to most, those with mobility issues however are treated to a video with extra explanation from Officer Roberts who greets everyone as they enter the main body of the Gaol.  


Officer Roberts is one of the many holograms that appear throughout the gaol to tell their story. The Crumlin Road Gaol Experience recently benefited from more improvements in 2023 so if you haven’t been for a while; the experience is even more immersive.

The Crumlin Road Gaol is a listed building and bringing it back to life without damaging the building obviously brings its own challenges, especially when trying to make it accessible to all.  With the use of modern technology, the experience not only tells the story of the building but also makes it a fun visit for everyone.

This is again illustrated with their audio guides system available in six languages which received a UK IT Industry Awards for its fantastic BSL video guides that has opened up Crumlin Road Gaol to a whole host of visitors.  

The Crumlin Road Gaol Experience is an amazing way to explore one of Belfast most amazing historical buildings and with the help of technology it accessible to all. Find out more at