Website Category: European Colonial Influences
Area: 2.1 km2
Criteria: (ii) interchange of values (iii) cultural tradition (vi) association with belief system
Location and Values: Cidade Velha was the first European colonial outpost established in the tropics. Built by the Portuguese in the 15th century in the Cape Verde Islands about 450km off the west coast of Africa, it became an important maritime base and stop-over for ships travelling across the Atlantic to Brazil, and south along the African coast to the Cape of Good Hope and beyond. The world heritage site covers the old town which has maintained its original street layout, and the ruins of two churches, a Royal Fortress and its Pillory Square with an ornate 16th century marble pillar.
Slideshow of the Cidade Velha, Historic Centre Of Ribeira Grande: The slideshow features a series of photos kindly provided by Sebastien Moriset, starting with four pictures that provide a quick overview of the entire site - the hilltop Fort of Sao Felipe; a view of the sheltered harbour with its stony beach; the main built-up area of the town occupying most of a small promontory; and a view looking up the valley into the agricultural hinterland (the limits of the world heritage site being defined by the rim of the valley). The slideshow then takes a tour of the built-up part of town, showing the main streets with their well-preserved traditional architectural styles and building techniques. The ruins of the cathedral; the white-washed church of Nossa Senhora do Rosario; the pillory where disobedient slaves were chained up and humiliated; and some general scenes of the beach and streets are shown. A path leads up the hill affording views of the Chapel of the Sao Francisco Convent (half-way up) and the ruins of a lookout post on a rocky summit. Overlooking the bay at the top of the hill, the well-preserved Fort of Sao Felipe is shown, with its far-reaching views out to sea. The slideshow ends with pictures of sugar cane production and a traditional distillery producing alcohol in the age-old ways that would have supplied hard liquor for the crews of ships on their long voyages across the Atlantic.
Slideshow of the Cidade Velha, Historic Centre Of Ribeira Grande:
Google Earth View: To view satellite imagery of Cidade Velha on Google Earth, click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing other world heritage sites around Africa.
Other Links: Official UNESCO Site Details