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Historic Center Of São Filipe

Fogo, Cape Verde

The island of Fogo or the island of São Filipe, as it was known at the time of discovery in 1460 by the Portuguese, was the second to be populated between 1470 and 1490. Its occupation was recommended by rich owners of Ribeira Grande de Santiago (Cidade Velha) , with his slaves, following the letter of limitation of privileges of 1472, which obliged the residents of Santiago to sell, on the African coast, only products originating on the island.

Despite this limitation, these residents took the opportunity to extend their cotton production to Fogo Island, which was used for commercialization on the African coast, even though they knew they were breaking the law. It is in this context that São Filipe emerged as the island's first urban center, emerging in the space where the São Felipe chapel was built, where today the so-called “low cemetery” is located.

As a slave trade in Ribeira Grande (Cidade Velha), São Filipe played a crucial role, since the main exchange product in the rescue of slaves on the African coast was derived from cotton. The cloth produced on the island of Fogo was highly appreciated in the slave trade, having thus led the Portuguese Crown, in 1687, to prohibit its sale to competing maritime powers (France, Holland and England).

However, with the decay of Ribeira Grande, in the 18th century, São Filipe lived a period of economic decay, leading large landowners to substitute cotton production for other crops, including legumes, wine, coffee and purgueira. Therefore, São Filipe experienced an economic increase, with the export of corn and beans to Madeira and the Canaries, but also coffee and wine, the latter being highly appreciated in the Brazilian market.

In this way, the production and exportation of the island allowed the enrichment of the local elite, with significant repercussions in the urban building of São Filipe, a concrete case of the townhouses, which dominate the urban fabric of this historic center.

The Historic Center of São Filipe was registered on the Cape Verde Indicative List for UNESCO on March 16, 2016, according to criteria IV and VI.

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