Exploring Tourism in Cape Verde
Cape Verde
icon Worldwideicon
Places to Visit Details


Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde


Besides being the capital of the country, Praia is the largest city in Cape Verde with around 180 thousand inhabitants. Formerly known as the village of Praia de Santa Maria, having appeared in 1615, when the beginning of the settlement of a plateau located near a beach (Praia de Santa Maria) that offered good conditions for mooring ships. Initially used as a clandestine port (so that customs duties were not paid in the then capital, Ribeira Grande), the town gradually acquired the characteristics of a village with, for example, the flight of the people of Ribeira Grande, after successive attacks by the pirates. The official passage from the capital of Ribeira Grande to Praia de Santa Maria took place in 1770.

As a capital city, it houses public buildings and other important buildings, such as the Presidential Palace, built at the end of the 19th century to be the residence of the Portuguese governor. There is also the old City Hall, a building with a classic facade and a central square tower, the Nossa Senhora da Graça Church, also in the classicist style, the Ethnographic Museum and the Monument of Diogo Gomes, Portuguese navigator and discoverer of Santiago Island in 1460.

After independence, the city suffered a demographic boom, and in thirty years it quadrupled its population, receiving migratory movements from all the islands, and contributing to the island of Santiago to have half the population of Cape Verde.


In cultural terms, the city of Praia contrasts sharply with the rest of the island of Santiago. While the rest of the island, since it was the first to be inhabited, maintains conservative and traditionalist characteristics, Praia, being a capital city, has more cosmopolitan characteristics. In culture, Praia easily absorbs influences from other islands, due to the inter-island internal migration, but also influences from abroad due to the concentration of population of foreign origin and due to facilities for communication with the outside. To find “authentic” cultural elements of Santiago, it is easier the further you get away from the beach.

Exactly because it is a capital city, because it has communication facilities with the outside world and greater concentration and diversity of people, Praia is one of the most privileged places in Cape Verde for cultural requests. Occasionally cultural activities take place, such as the launching of works, exhibitions, shows, for which there are infrastructures to support culture, such as several theaters, the so-called Palace of Culture, the Ethnographic Museum and the National Historical Archive. Praia also has several infrastructures for nightlife.

Check out more Places to Visit