Tarrafal Concentration Camp

World Monuments Watch
Tarrafal, Cape Verde

2006 World Monuments Watch

Built by Portuguese dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar in 1933, the prison camp of Tarrafal on Santiago Island housed political prisoners and Africans rebelling against colonial rule in Cape Verde, Angola, and Guinea-Bissau, who were held here until Cape Verde won its independence in 1975. Since then, the complex of prison cells, administrative facilities, and a small railway for the transport of supplies and fuel has been used as a military base, a refugee camp, a storage facility, and a school. These functions caused changes and alterations that have damaged and disfigured the site. Most of its buildings lack windows and doors and many of the buildings’ roofs are missing or badly damaged. While it is often difficult to find support for places that highlight dark chapters in human history, sites such as Tarrafal serve as important reminders of the history of humankind’s quest for freedom.

Since the Watch

In 2009 an international symposium on the former Tarrafal concentration camp took place in Praia, Cape Verde, on the 35th anniversary of the camp’s closing. The symposium was attended by former political prisoners and specialists from the countries of Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea Bissau and Portugal. The Tarrafal Concentration Camp has since been turned into a museum, the Museu da Resistência, displaying photos, plaques, and artifacts.

Last updated: September 2018.

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