Cidade Velha, Cape Verde

The oldest settlement on Cape Verde. the city has a past colored by trade, exploitation, and pirates.



CyArk scanning the fort in Cidade Velha by CyArkCyArk

Expedition Overview

In March 2015, CyArk digitally documented Cidade Velha in partnership with the African World Heritage Fund. Panoramic photography and LiDAR laser scanning were completed at four locations around the city including the Sé Cathedral, Nossa Senhora do Rosário Church, Fort Real de São Filipe and the Pillory square. CyArk also conducted a training workshop for African World Heritage Fund staff, local experts from Cape Verde and a variety of heritage specialists from the Lusophone community around the world. The workshop focused on digital documentation methods and the how digital data can be used for conservation.

The walls of Fort Real de Sao Filipe by CyArkCyArk

Introducing Cidade Velha

First colonized in the mid-1400's by the Portuguese, Cabo Verde would quickly become the center of the largest human diaspora in history due to the large number of enslaved people who passed through the city. Beginning as a small town, the city received a Royal Charter in 1466 giving permission to own and trade enslaved people from Africa. Over the next 100 years,the settlement would increase in importance through its dominant trade in gold and slaves. As its wealth increased the city was subject to frequent raids by pirates and other nations seeking to exploit the city's riches. The fear of attack led the town to build the largest fort of it day, Forte de Sao Felipe, in 1590.

Nossa Senhora do Rosário Church by CyArkCyArk

Nossa Senhora do Rosário Church

The Nossa Senhora do Rosário Church was constructed in 1493 and is considered to be the first colonial church. The church served as the center of the Diocese of Santiago de Cabo Verde until the construction of the nearby Sé Cathedral in 1693. While the church remained untouched during the pirate raids of the 16th century, the structure, along with the rest of Cidade Velha was destroyed during the French Cassard expedition in 1712. Centuries would pass before the church was finally rebuilt in the early 20th century.

Open Heritage 3D by CyArkCyArk

Data from this project is now freely available through Open Heritage 3D.

Download the data from this project.

About Open Heritage 3D

The mission of the Open Heritage 3D project is to:

● Provide open access to 3D cultural heritage datasets for education, research and other
non-commercial uses.

● Minimize the technical, financial and legal barriers for publishers of 3D heritage data.

● Promote discovery and re-use of datasets through standardized metadata and data formats.

● Foster community collaboration and knowledge sharing in the 3D cultural heritage community.

● Share best practices and methodologies for the capture, processing and storage of 3D cultural heritage data

Credits: Story

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This project was made possible through the generous support of African World Heritage Fund.

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