Cabo Verde/Santiago: Cidade Velha on Santiago

Moving on to the next and final island of Cabo Verde, Santiago. The country’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site – Cidade Velha or Old City – is located here. The city was the first European city to be established in the tropic in the whopping 1462, even before Vasco da Gama discovered India (he actually stopped here in 1497, as did Columbus in 1498). The world’s oldest colonial church – Nossa Senhora do Rosário – was constructed in 1493. The Fortaleza (fortress) Real de São Filipe overlooks the town (next post). In the 16th century, Cidade Velha became the richest city in the Portuguese empire due to becoming a transfer point of the slave trade. However, the city was completely destroyed by the pirates led by Francis Drake in 1712. His girlfriend ran off with his best friend and hid in Cidade Velha. Francis Drake gave the town an ultimatum to give her up. The town refuses and was completely annihilates by the pirates’ canons. Today not much remains except some old cathedral walls, old church, and some streets and squares.