Construction on the island prison that would come to named Anchieta Island Correctional Institute began in 1902, but by 1952 the conditions at the prison had reached a breaking point and a violent riot ensued which left the jail abandoned and crumbling, as it still sits today.
After uprooting the settled and native populations on Anchieta Island, the construction of the prison facility began. Room was made for guards and their families in addition to the cell blocks which were built to house the criminal element from off-shore Sao Paulo. At first the inmates were the standard variety of offenders, most of whom lived on the site in the fashion of a prison colony, but by the late 1920s more and more political prisoners were being moved to the site.
The prison operated fairly without incident until 1952 when the inmates staged a violent rebellion that left countless guards and inmates dead and wounded. After the riot, the remaining detainees were transferred to other facilities and the Anchieta Island prison was closed, leaving the prison buildings to crumble and be retaken by nature.
Today Anchieta Island is a popular stop for tourists visiting Sao Paulo. The lush nature that covers the island is the main attraction, but the abandoned prison site is also still accessible. In fact the very nature that brings so many visitors to the island is turning the old buildings into picturesque ruins as the plants reclaim the site. The peaceful greenery does little to communicate the violence that the prison site is remembered for.
Know Before You Go
Ilha Anchieta is located on the northern coastal region of the state of São Paulo and is under the jurisdiction of the city of Ubatuba. To get to the isle, take one of the boats departing from Enseada or Saco da Ribeira. Prices may vary.