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Cidade Velha

Cidade Velha, Santiago, Cape Verde


Considered by historians, a living museum city, and the cradle of the Cape Verdean nation and culture, due to the historical, architectural and human heritage constituted by its population. The city was a port of call for two great navigators: Vasco da Gama, in 1497, on his voyage to discover the sea route to India, and Christopher Columbus, in 1498, on his third voyage to the Americas.

Located in the south of the island of Santiago, the ancient Ribeira Grande, was founded in 1462, just two years after the arrival of Portuguese navigators on the island of Santiago, the first of the islands in the Cape Verde archipelago to be discovered. In addition to being the first city founded by Europeans south of the Sahara desert, and the first capital of Cape Verde, it was also the seat of the first diocese on the West African coast.

The ancient city of Ribeira Grande in its golden age and splendor, had more than 500 houses made of stone and lime, good houses where numerous Portuguese and Castilian noblemen lived. The city would have a population of about 2500 people, not counting the passing and service slaves of their masters. In 1582, the City had already diminished its importance, with only 508 people, who owned 5700 slaves - Santiago loses its position as a slave export warehouse. The abundance of water and the facilities for agriculture were decisive for the choice of this site as the center of the settlement.

The city functioned as a center for slave training and transforming into workforce and new Christian values. It also, supplied the workforce in Portugal, the Azores, Madeira, Brazil, the Caribbean until the abolition of slavery in 1876. The CV economy was dependent on the slave trade that supported the local masters and the finances of the archipelago.

Ribeira Grande was the capital of the island until 1769, being transferred to Praia de Santa Maria - current City of Praia due to the successive attacks of the pirates at that time.

In 2000, under the coordination of the architect Álvaro Siza, work was started on preparing the city's application dossier for UNESCO World Heritage. Due to its history, manifested by a valuable architectural heritage, on June 26, 2009 it was classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.


IGREJA NOSSA SENHORA DO ROSÁRIO: The oldest colonial church in the world, built in 1495, the Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário, in Manueline (Portuguese Gothic) style, the only one that has reached our day.

PELOURINHO: Built between 1512 and 1520 it is popularly also known as Picota, it is a stone column placed in a public place of a city or town where criminals were punished and exposed.

SÉ CATEDRAL: The city's Sé Cathedral began to be erected in 1555, being completed in 1693, when the city had already lost much of its importance.

FORTALEZA REAL DE SÃO FILIPE: The urban complex is dominated by Fort Real de São Filipe, 120 meters above sea level, built in 1587, as a result of the attacks by the English privateer Francis Drake on the city, in 1578 and in 1585.

CONVENTO DE SÃO FRANCISCO: The Convent of São Francisco was built in the middle of the 17th century, having served as a place of worship and formation. It was looted and damaged in the pirate assault in 1712.

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