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[an error occurred while processing this directive]Cidade Velha, Historic Centre of Ribeira Grande, Cape Verde

[an error occurred while processing this directive][an error occurred while processing this directive] Cidade Velha, originally known as Ribeira Grande, is the site of the first European colonial outpost in the tropics. It is located to the south of the island of Santiago in Cape Verde, off the western coast of Africa. Ribeira Grande marks the first time that European colonialism spread towards Africa in the 15th century. The original layout of Ribeira Grande is still visible in Cidade Velha today. Among the ruins include two churches, a royal fortress and pillory square dating to the 16th century. One of the churches, built in 1495, is the oldest colonial church in the world.

The Historic Centre of Ribeira Grande at Cidade Velha was inscribed as a World Heritage Site during the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee which met in Seville, Spain on 22-30 June, 2009. The World Heritage Site core zone of Cidade Velha covers an area of 209.1 hectares while the buffer zone covers 1795.6 hectares.


Cidade Velha, Ribeira Grande, Cape Verde
Cidade Velha, Ribeira Grande, Cape Verde
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Cidade Velha, also known as Sidade in Cape Verdean Creole, is about 15 km from Praia, the capital of Cape Verde. The Portuguese established a settlement here in 1462, naming it Ribeira Grande, after a river in Portugal. It was an important port for the slave trade in the 15th century. The profit from slave trading made Ribeira Grande the second richest city among the Portuguese colonies.

Both Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus stopped over at Ribeira Grande on their respective journeys, da Gama bound for India in 1497 while Columbus was on his third voyage to the Americas in 1498.


Street in Cidade Velha
Street in Cidade Velha
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In the late 18th century, Ribeira Grande was renamed Cidade Velha. This was to avoid confusion with another place with the same name nearby.

World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Location: N 14 54 54.5 W 23 36 18.7
Inscription Year: 2009
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: II, III, VI

Location Map of Cidade Velha


View Cidade Velha, Historic Centre of Ribeira Grande in a larger map

Visiting Cidade Velha, Historic Centre of Ribeira Grande

You can fly to the island of Santiago, and book accommodation at Praia, the capital. From the capital, Cidade Velha is just 15 km away. You can call a taxi to take you there.

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