Devil's Island, Cayenne
(4.3/5 based on 130+ reviews on the web)
The penal colony of Cayenne, commonly known as Devil's Island, was a famous prison of the 19th and 20th century. It operated at several locations in French Guiana. Opened in 1852, it was notorious for being used for internal exile of French political prisoners during that period, the most famous of which was Captain Alfred Dreyfus. It is also known for its harsh treatment of criminals, who were deported there from all parts of the French empire. The system was closed down in 1953.OrganizationThe prison system stretched over several locations, on the mainland and in the off-shore Îles du Salut group. Île Royale was the reception centre for the general population of the penal colony; they were housed in moderate freedom due to the difficulty of escape from the island. Île Saint-Joseph was the Reclusion, where inmates were sent to be punished by solitary confinement in silence and darkness for escapes or offences committed in the penal colony. Île du Diable was for political prisoners. In the 19th century, the most famous such prisoner was Captain Alfred Dreyfus. In addition to the prisons on each of the three islands in the Salut island group, the French constructed three related prison facilities on the South American mainland, just across the straits at Kourou; 30 miles east in Cayenne, which later became the capital of French Guiana; and a hundred miles west at St. Laurent.
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  • What a very pretty sight we happened upon in the middle of nowhere. We tendered across a short distance to the Island covered in green vegetation , animals & old penal ruins, a church & other building...  more »
  • Visiting the islands of salvation for a day. Moving to say that despite the conditions people have lived and died here. the vegetation has taken over these rights, but the ruins and buildings attest to the story that took place in these islands. This strengthens the special atmosphere that emerges. Not to be missed!
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  • This site, made famous by "Papillon", is the best tourist attraction in French Guiana, boasting historical buildings from the infamous penal colony and pleasant walking paths among palm trees. A quain...  more »