São Vicente

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mindelo david Santos

@David Santos

mindelo david Santos

@David Santos

History

Discovered on St. Vincent’s Day (January 22) in 1462 by Portuguese navigator Diogo Gomes, a scout of Infante D. Fernando, to whom the island was given by King João II, his uncle. The island’s settlement was initially granted to the Dukes of Viseu who failed, however, to occupy it, a situation that continued even after São Vicente was inherited by King Manuel I.

Because of its perpetual lack of water, the island remained relegated to the humble condition of pastureland for livestock belonging to landowners from neighboring Santo Antão for many, many years. São Vicente was the last island in the archipelago to be settled.

It was only in 1838, when a coal deposit to supply steamships plying the Atlantic was set up along the shores of Mindelo Bay, that people began to settle on the island, and the city of Mindelo was founded. With the expansion of steamship navigation in the second half of the 19th Century, São Vicente saw a surge in its development, with various English coal companies establishing warehouses on the island and countless ships making their way to Mindelo port to replenish their coal stocks.

The island became a mandatory stop in the middle Atlantic for ships from all over the world, and sailors of many nationalities fraternized in Mindelo’s taverns and cafés. During this time, the city became an important and cosmopolitan cultural hub where music, literature and sports were all cultivated. Indeed, the possibility of transferring Cabo Verde’s capital to Mindelo was even considered.

Geography

Although volcanic in origin, the island is relatively flat, especially its central region, in the eastern Calhau district and in Baía das Gatas, to the north. Its highest point is Monte Verde, at 774 meters.

Other important elevations are Monte Cara (“Mount Face”), so called given its resemblance to a human face looking toward the sky (488 meters at its “chin” and 480 at its “nose”), Fateixa (571 meters), the Madeiral/Topona complex (675 and 699 meters, respectively) and Tope de Caixa (535 meters).

Cuisine

The most common dish in Mindelo restaurants, like in the rest of Cabo Verde, is tuna steak, which is normally of excellent quality. It is also, however, possible to find cachupa, a local dried corn and bean stew, with other grilled or baked fish dishes popular as well.

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