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Step Back in Time: Discover the Historic Gems of Cabo Verde

While Cape Verde is well-known for its immaculate beaches and glistening waters, its surroundings also conceal a valuable gem: a rich history and cultural legacy that is on display through impressive landmarks. These architectural marvels, significant compositions, and humble creations are all considered Landmarks under Cape Verdean legislation. Exploring Cabo Verde's storied past with our guide to the must-see historical landmarks!

Landmark Identification

According to Cape Verdean legislation, Landmarks are categorized by who owns them. The government classifies property through decree if it is state property. In cases when the property is owned by a public entity or a local municipality, the owner's approval is obtained through a government order to achieve categorization. In the event that a deal cannot be reached, a government decree for classification is issued.

Importantly, once a Landmark is designated as a work of national heritage, its restoration or modification cannot take place without the approval and oversight of the Cultural Heritage Services, especially the Institute of Cultural Heritage.

Currently, the Tarrafal Concentration Camp and its structures are recognized as National Heritage Sites. The Historic Site of Cidade Velha é a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cathedral ruins at Ribeira Grande de Santiago

An exquisite example of Cape Verde's rich past are the Cathedral Ruins in Ribeira Grande de Santiago. These were the biggest religious buildings ever erected on the African coast, both in Cape Verde and elsewhere.

The cathedral was nearly finished by 1700, when construction started in 1556. But the French corsair Jacques Cassard's deadly attack in 1712 left it reduced to ruins, which is how it remains now.

Real Fortaleza de São Felipe

It was made in 1587, the Fortaleza Real de São Felipe 120 meters above sea level is a powerful architectural wonder. Strategically positioned to command two facades facing the field and two fortified fronts with firing parapets facing the city center, the fortaleza offers an amazing polygonal plan with a bastioned design.


Built around the turn of the 16th century, probably in 1512 or 1520, the Pelourinho is a representation of royal justice and civic sovereignty. Situated at the center of the city, it functioned as a public reading platform for municipal acts, a place for punishing violators, and a hive of activity for a variety of trades, including the exchange of local produce and slaves.

The Church/Convent of São Francisco

São Francisco Convent/Church is a reminder of Cape Verde's past and culture. Constructed in 1640, this exquisite edifice is situated on territory bestowed by Joana Coelho, a prosperous aristocrat and the widow of Captain Fabião de Andrade.

The Franciscan friars, who replaced the Jesuits in Cape Verde, were accommodated in the monastery by design. In addition, the community received instruction from the priests in a variety of trades at this educational hub. Sadly, Jacques Cassard's attack on the convent in 1712 nearly completely destroyed it, and a storm in 1754 severely ruined it.

Concentration Camp Tarrafal

The ominous remnants of a terrible era in Cape Verde's past are the Tarrafal Concentration Camp. It was constructed in 1936 according to an April 23, 1936, ordinance and situated in Chão Bom. Reopened in 1962 as the "Chão Bom Labor Camp," its purpose was to house anti-colonialists from Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and Angola. The camp's conditions were cruel and severe, characterized by mistreatment, seclusion, and humiliation.

An overview of Cape Verde's historical Landmarks, each of which tells a distinct story in the history of the country, is given in this blog article. Remember to stop by these locations when you travel this amazing archipelago so you may become more integrated into Cape Verde's rich cultural fabric. Their illuminating and compelling anecdotes provide a greater understanding of this intriguing location.