Thanks to the remoteness of Ushuaia, here’s a short history lesson courtesy of LonelyPlanet.com:
Between 1884 and 1947 Argentina imitated Britain’s example with Australia and made the city a penal colony, incarcerating many of its most notorious criminals and political prisoners here and on remote Isla de los Estados (Staten Island). In 1906 the military prison was moved to Ushuaia, and in 1911 it was combined with the Carcel de Reincidentes, which had incarcerated civilian recidivists since 1896. Since 1950 the town has been an important naval base.
The prison was no longer in use but it was very cold (no heat) and depressing. This, or any prison for that matter, is not where I’d want to spend any time incarcerated. You’ll see a tour on the first floor. They only offered the tours in Spanish so we decided not to join. In each of the cells were signs and information in both English and Spanish so we self-guided ourselves through the prison.
As Ushuaia is a remote place, the city, or maybe it was a campaign by the tourist board, recognized that it’s a feat in and of itself to get there. We found out that the post office and some banks provide various stamps for your passport, to say you arrived at ‘the end of the world!’
I didn’t want to spend our time in Ushuaia hunting down these stamps so I reminded myself to be happy with just one version of the stamp. As luck would have it, we stopped in a bank and the woman went nuts — stamping every version of the stamp in our passports!
The next time I visit Ushuaia, I will be boarding a cruise to Antarctica!