Museu da Resistencia, an old prison camp, is located just outside Tarrafal. The prison camp was built in 1936 to house opponents of dictator Salazar’s regime in Portugal, but later it was also used for the independence fighters from Angola, Cape Verde, and Guinea-Bissau. The prison was closed on May 1st, 1974 – a few days after the Carnation Revolution in Lisbon...
It is now turned into a museum. In some of the old buildings are information plaques with photos and info about the camp and the history of some of the prisoners. The camp was also known as “Campo da Morte Lenta” (the Camp of the Slow Death) or “Aldeia da Morte” (Death Village), and is a very sad place; prison, cement, dust and heat…
Sao Jorge Dos Orgaos - about 25 kilometres north of Praia - is a small picturesque village located between the mountains on the island of Santiago. The main attraction is the national botanical garden (Jardim Botanico Nacional). Well kept and a very nice place for a walk, some of the flowers are amazingly colourful and beautiful.
Going to and from the botanical garden you’ll see some small gardens and a couple of greenhouses. They are part of the agricultural research station, “India”, which is also located here in Sao Jorge Dos Orgaos. You can also make a stop at the village church. Very small, but with extra benches in the churchyard for outdoor services. From the village is a view of the highest point of the island of Santiago, Pico de Antonia - 1,394 meters high.
Fort Real do Sao Filipe is strategically located on a hilltop just outside Cidade Velha, and from the top there is a nice view of the town and the canyon of Ribeira Grande...
Fort Real do Sao Filipe itself… In the end of the 16th century Cidade Velha was attacked by Francis Drake, and soon after the fort was built to protect the town against further attacks. However, didn’t help them much during the attack of French pirate Jacques Cassard in 1712... Now, the fort looks recently renovated and there are some warehouses, old cannons, and remains of the old barracks where the soldiers used to live. Outside the fort is a small visitor centre where you can get a leaflet – and watch a video (15-20 minutes) about the history of Cidade Velha...
Prainha is the noblest area of Praia; it is here where the two best hotels (Oasis Atlantico Praiamar Hotel and Hotel Tropico), the international embassies, and the more expensive residential houses are located.
I stayed at the Oasis Atlantico Praiamar Hotel and had a couple of walks around the area. If you follow Rua do Mar to the end you’ll find the Praia Lighthouse (Farol D. Maria Pia). It is a very remote and windy place, but with a good view of the sea and the city.
I also visited the small beach between Oasis Atlantico Praiamar Hotel and Hotel Tropico. I didn’t see other tourists there, but the small beach bar was the hangout place for a few locals. OK place for a cold Strela beer…
Tarrafal is much more than the old prison camp just outside town… OK - I only visited the town on a daytrip from Praia, but found the place to be nice and relaxing.
I had dinner at restaurant “Baia Verde”. Good food and a great view of the sea and beach from the terrace.
I went for a walk along the beach. To the right of the restaurant the beach was almost empty, but to the left it was crowded with local fishermen and their boats. Interesting to see daily life going on…
Every Wednesday and Sunday there is a local market in the small town of Assomada, about 35 kilometres north of Praia. Vegetables, meat, clothes, household goods, and anything else you can think about...
We went for a long walk around the market place. It was very crowded, but there was a nice atmosphere. No pushy vendors or aggressive salespersons, we were allowed just to watch daily life at an African market.
In the centre of Assomada is a small square with the town church and a couple of monuments.
Rua Banana (Banana Street) is a small cosy alley in the centre of Cidade Velha. Actually it was the first ‘European’ street in Africa. Some of the houses date back to the 15th century and have recently been rebuilt with their original stone.
Nice place for a short walk.
Convento de Sao Francisco was built around 1640, and for nearly 75 years it functioned as a church, a residence of a few Franciscan friars, and a educational training centre. However, it all came to an end in 1712 when French pirate Jacques Cassard almost destroyed the whole place.
Today, a part of the old convent is restored and now used for meetings, art exhibitions, and other events… There is a nice view of the canyon of Ribeira Grande from the backside of Convento de Sao Francisco.
Igreja de Nossa Senhor do Rosario was built in the end of the 15th century. It was before the cathedral was built and at that time it served as the main church for Cidade Velha. Today, it is again the main church and is always full on Sundays.
The church has a simple interior and altarpiece, but there are a few tombstones laid in the floor and the lower part of the walls is decorated with tiles (Portuguese style?).
Visit the church for its history, it is the earliest documented church in the tropics!
The cathedral of Cidade Velha was begun by the third Bishop of Cape Verde, Francisco da Cruz, in 1556, but changes in building plans – and changes of bishops – meant that the cathedral wasn’t completed until 1693.
Unfortunately, the life of the cathedral was not very long! It was destroyed by French pirate Jacques Cassard in 1712 - and now only the ruins stand today.
A few of the old walls remains, giving you the impression how the cathedral looked 300 years ago – but it is a ruin...
Cidade Velha was once an important port for trading slaves from Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone to Brazil and the Caribbean.
Today, you can still find a reminder of the inhumanity of slavery! The pelourinho, a 16th century pillory which was used for the punishment of slaves, is standing in the centre of Cidade Velha.
You might be met by some souvenir vendors when visiting the pelourinho. I found the prices to be very expensive, but Cidade Velha is probably the most touristy place on the island of Santiago.
Gold coins, bronze items, cannons, guns, a bottle of French cognac, and much more retrieved from shipwrecks around Cape Verde. I spotted a few objects from the Danish vessel, ‘Ernest Schimmelmann’, which was reported lost in 1781 - but there are also objects from ships from Portugal, Spain, Holland, France, and England.
Centro de Restauracao e Museologia is a very small museum, only one exhibition room and it's not very big – but I still found the visit interesting. We were so lucky to meet a man who was working with the exhibitions. He was actually one of the divers who had found some of the artefacts, and he gave us a guided tour.
The museum is located in a small back alley and is not easy to find, but it is close to the football stadium, just below the Plateau.
Museu Etnografico da Praia is located on the main street at the Plateau, not far from Praca Alexandre de Albuquerque.
The museum displays exhibitions of Cape Verde’s historical, social and cultural past. Most of the artefacts are objects and tools used in daily work, for instance pottery, gourds used as containers, mortars, and baskets…
The museum is small, but has a few interesting artefacts. OK for a short visit.
Praca Alexandre de Albuquerque is a good place to start a sightseeing-tour of the old part of Praia. The square is surrounded by some interesting buildings; Igreja Nossa Senhora da Graca (the cathedral) from 1900, the old city hall built in the 1920s, the Presidential Palace constructed in the end of the 19th century to house the Portuguese governor, and the Palace of Justice which now also houses an Internet Cafe and a Bookshop.
The square is connected to one of the city’s main streets, Avenida 5 de Julio, and here is the small local market and the Museu Etnografico da Praia worth a visit. Just behind the square you’ll find a statue of Diogo Gomes, one of the Portuguese discoverers of the island of Santiago in 1460. There is a nice view of the bay and the city from the statue.
In the weekend many Capeverdians will visit the beach of Tarrafal.
It's pleasant,lifely and a lot of business.
Many sellers of drinks and snacks appear.
During the week you have the beach nearly for yourself.