Rehabilitation work has begun on the São Verissimo Fort on Santiago Island, transforming the 16th-century Cabo Verdean fort into a museum, reports Lusa.
Work began on the structures surrounding the fort, rehabilitating the walls overlooking the sea, and will on to the interior. Archaeological work will be completed, the internal structure adapted for the planned museum and cannons restored to their original positions. Lighting, museum content, and access will also be introduced. Cultural Heritage Institute (IPC) President Ana Samira Baessa says it will be “a quick job”, though, likely completed in the first half of 2024.
The 30,000-euro project is being financed by the Cabo Verdean government, through the Tourism Fund, and the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF). Cabo Verde is covering the current work, with funds from AWHF will be available soon for the technical work.
The São Verissimo Fort was constructed in 1590 to protect the town of Ribeira Grande (later renamed Cidade Velha) from the constant threat of pirates. Ribeira Grande served as the first capital of Cabo Verde before it was moved to Praia, the present-day capital some 12 kilometres east, in 1770.
Rehabilitation of the fort is part of a larger project of urban and environmental rehabilitation in Cidade Velha, the historic centre of which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. As the first European colonial outpost in the tropics and an essential platform for the Atlantic slave trade, the many historic elements of the town hold “outstanding historical value, according to UNESCO.
The UN agency also noted the “fragility” of the site that the current project will help address. According to the IPC, the São Verissimo Fort will soon take “pride of place on the tourist map of Cidade Velha, thanks to the rehabilitation and museum works.”