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Santiago is the largest island in the archipelago, fifty-five kilometres in length and twenty-nine kilometres wide. One of the islands best attractions are the deep valleys, the result of erosion with the passing of time.
Praia, Cabo Verde’s capital city, arose on the Plateau, overlooking the bay. Walk through the streets and admire the attractive old quarter buildings, then sip a good coffee in an outdoor bar, or rest in the pleasant gardens.
Opposite the town is the islet of Sta Maria, where you can see the lighthouse, constructed in 1881 so named after Dona Maria Pia, a Portuguese queen, this wind-battered edifice provides a scenic vantage point for views across the coastline.
From Praia, take a half day tour of Cidade Velha, there is plenty to see walking around this historic city centre, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2009.
The town of Ribeira Grande, renamed Cidade Velha in the late 18th century, was the first European colonial outpost in the tropics. Located in the south of the island of Santiago, the town features some of the original street layouts impressive remains including two churches, a royal fortress and Pillory Square with its ornate 16th-century marble pillar; here you can pick up a pamphlet guide.
Follow the path downhill from the fort, past the ruined cathedral to arrive at the seashore. You can have paddle down on the beach here before continuing to the main square. The monument here is the Pelourinho Ou Picota and was a place of execution. Further along, the colourful street called Rua Banana leads us uphill.
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