A notorious Siberian prison from which nobody ever escaped and where thousands of enemies of the state were executed has been turned into a hostel.

Tobolsk prison castle was constructed under Tsarist rule at the turn of the 18th century. Many Decembrists – revolutionaries who tried to lead a revolt against Tsar Nicholas I in 1825 – were sent to this white-walled, maximum security jail. Fyodor Dostoyevsky – the writer of Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov – was held at Tobolsk for around 10 days in 1850 before he was transferred to Omsk for four years of exile with hard labour.

After the Revolution in 1917, the Bolsheviks took it over and imprisoned Tsar Nicholas II and his family there for a while, before transferring them to Yekaterinburg where they were executed. The Great Purge of 1937-38 saw thousands of enemies of the state summarily executed. Some 2,500 political prisoners were shot against a wall at Tobolsk prison castle and buried in a mass grave.

The prison was closed in 1989, and has recently reopened to tourists. In addition to a museum providing information about the lives and deaths of prisoners in Siberian gulags, there's a hostel at which travellers can stay in what used to be solitary confinement punishment cells known as sweat boxes. (If you do fancy the idea of staying here, you probably won't do much sweating and you'd better wrap up warm – the average temperature in January is -18.5C.)