Notorious Portuguese political prison becomes museum of resistance

Jones, Sam

Publisher:  Europe Solidaire Sans Frontieres
Date Written:  31/03/2019
Year Published:  2019  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23595

A historical fortress Peniche used to hold dissidents under Portugal's dictatorship is being turned into a museum to remind people of the life under fascism.




Few people know Peniche better than Domingos Abrantes. The communist politician, now 83 and a member of Portugal’s council of state, spent 12 years in prison under the authoritarian Estado Novo regime of António de Oliveira Salazar. Nine of them were served in Peniche, a 16th-century fortress that was used as a jail for dissidents and opponents of the regime between 1934 and 1974....

On 27 April – the 45th anniversary of the prison's closing following the Carnation revolution – the fortress will reopen as the National Museum of Resistance and Freedom....

Abrantes is one of the former prisoners who have shared their recollections of Peniche as part of the historical memory project.

Decades after he was released, the prison's geography and petty routines remain fresh in his mind. He hops over duckboards and around piles of building materials to point out the spot from which a brave inmate intent on freedom plunged into the sea, the roof terrace where prisoners were allowed an hour of fresh air a day and the cold, wet and dark chamber used for solitary confinement.

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