Visiting the island of Santiago

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Visiting the island of Santiago

Considered the birthplace of the nation and the most ancient city in the country, it possesses a long and curious history linked to its great geo-strategic importance.

Port of call during the slave trade from the African coast to the rest of the world and first European urban center in the tropics, its wealth was always coveted. That fact can be demonstrated by the construction, at the end of the XVI century, of the São Filipe Fortress, which, from its lofty position, defended the city from constant raids by pirates, such as Francis Drake and J. Cassard.

These repeated attacks, together with some others, such as the revolt attempt carried out by the followers of Prior do Crato forced the status of capital city to be transferred in 1772 to the present one – Praia.

Nowadays, Cidade Velha is a historical monument that deserves a visit. There, the visitor can find the remains of the first Portuguese who arrived on this island.

There is so much of its glorious past including the church of Nossa Senhora do Rosario which, notwithstanding its five centuries of existence, is still reasonably well – preserved, maintaining its original tiles and tombs.

The aforementioned Fortress, built in stone brought from Portugal, has a unique view and, in clear days, Fogo Island can be spotted from there. The Pillory, built in the XVI century in Manueline Style, remains intact reminding the days when the slaves were publicly punished there. The valley stretching out to the out to the city is rich vegetation, the coconut trees and the imposing baobabs being worthy of note.

Other interesting places include Cidade da Praia, the capital and administrative and commercial center of Cabo Verde. Santiago was probably the island that most suffered influence from the African continent. That can be witnessed in the different cultural phenomena: from the music and habits to the gastronomy…

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