Improvements to the old capital, Cidade Velha have been announced on the 14th anniversary of it being awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO. The intention is to improve conditions for the residents and also increase tourism. Cidade Velha is on the south end of the island of Santiago, not far from the current capital, Praia. The announcement was made by the president of the Institute of Cultural Heritage (IPC), Ana Samira Baessa. The target is for the improvements to be in place by 2026. A signage project, funded by UNESCO is due to commence this year.
The granting of World Heritage status brings advantages, but of course, it also imposes some restrictions on what can be done. It is important to achieve a balance between preserving the historic value of the town and providing facilities for the residents and tourists. These two requirements are sometimes in conflict and so careful management is important.
Cidade Velha was originally called Ribeira Grande. It was the first European colonial settlement in the tropics. The town dates from the 15th Century. For the following two centuries it was an important port for the Portuguese. Some of the attractions in this historic town include some of the original road layout, two churches, a fortress and Pillory Square with a 16th Century marble column. It also has a sad connection with the slave trade. In the 18th Century, the city of Praia, a little to the east, became the capital of Cape Verde.
[28 June 2023]