A Walk Inside the Abandoned Trafaria Prison

Presídio da Trafaria was where opponents of the Salazar regime were tried, defended by crooked lawyers, beaten seven ways from Sunday, and then jailed and left to rot.

All Photos by Lorena Velasco

If you’ve ever taken the ferry from Belém over to Trafaria, you might encounter something a little out of the ordinary if you take a moment to look around.

Crumbling walls, caved-in ceilings, and eerie notches in the walls marking the days, months, or years of captivity are all that’s left — even the bars are gone. This abandoned complex is the Presídio da Trafaria, founded in 1751, where originally, many exiled citizens waited to be shipped off to the colonies and later, opponents of the Salazar regime were tried, defended by crooked lawyers, beaten seven ways from Sunday, and then jailed and left to rot.

On the afternoon of the Carnation Revolution (April 25th, 1974), that all changed. Salazar was ousted and he Vendas Novas troop invaded the prison and freed everyone from what had been described by José de Almeida, one of the inmates, as a horrible experience that would put Shawshank to shame.

In each of these narrow cells … three and four prisoners were put in with two mattresses and four blankets, some of them infested with lice. The food was obnoxious, poorly made, and to the mixture disgusting guts still with traces of excrement, exuding a foul smell. 

Get there:
Take the Trans Tejo ferry from Belém to Trafaria and walk to GPS 38.674107, -9.230394.

See more of Lorena’s work here. 

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