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Nossa Senhora Do Rosário Church (cidade Velha)

Santiago Island, Cape Verde

Did you know that the oldest colonial church in the world, built in 1495, is located in Cape Verde?

Built at the end of the 15th century (1495), initially housing a Manueline-style chapel, later expanded to the body of the church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário. It is one of the oldest religious buildings, still in existence, and a rare example of Gothic architecture in sub-Saharan Africa. It was part of one of the most important ecclesiastical confraternities that existed in Ribeira Grande de Santiago, the Confraria de Nossa Senhora do Rosário.

In the middle of the 16th century, it consisted of about 500 stone and lime buildings, with an extensive set of religious buildings standing out: the Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário, the only one that has reached our days, the Church of São Roque, today uncharacterized, and the missing Church of São Pedro, Church of Monte Alverne, Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, and Chapel of Santa Luzia. Also missing, with the exception of part of the bell tower, the Church and Hospital of the Santa Casa de Misericórdia were located in the lower part of the city, and, a little further inland, the hospice and the houses of the Society of Jesus.

Nossa Senhora do Rosario church (Portuguese for Our Lady of the Rosary) is in the town of Cidade Velha on the island of Santiago, Cape Verde. It is located in the northwest of the town, near the right (west) bank of the stream Ribeira Grande de Santiago. The historic centre of Cidade Velha is an UNESCO World Heritage site since June 2009.

The rehabilitation work of the Nossa Senhora do Rosário Church began in July 2017, after several demands, since it was in a state of “accelerated degradation” due to the infiltration of water and some pathologies in its structure. The rehabilitation works took three years, the architect who prepared the project, Adalberto Tavares, explained that interventions were made on the hillside and on the building itself, while respecting its architectural structure.

For the chief executive, who co-chaired the ceremony, together with Cardinal Dom Arlindo Furtado, bishop of Santiago, this church, the oldest in Cape Verde built 30 years after the discovery of the archipelago, has “very strong value” ”For communities and the world.

Today with a new face, the parish priest, António Honorato, appeals to everyone to preserve the church so that they continue to have an “emblematic and patrimonial” work to present to Cape Verdeans and tourists.

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