A dip in the 19th century
Arriving to Capo Verde with an MSC cruise, the volcanic origins of the island of São Vicente become immediately apparent. The bay where the capital of São Vicente, Mindelo, is situated is actually the remains of a caldera, the most recognizable of those found on the island.
This population centre was founded in the second half of the 19th century when it became a refuelling stop for motor vessels on trans-Atlantic voyages. Mindelo has remained mostly unchanged.
Once disembarked from your MSC cruise ship, you well be greeted by shops selling typical objects of local artisanship. Textile works are greatly prized; however, ceramics, objects made from coconuts and jewellery made from the Capo Verde shells and lava rocks are also not to be brushed aside. At every corner, there are shops, galleries and small cafés. Even before you leave the port, you will encounter remnants of the past such as the Fortim do Rei, and excellent panoramic point dating back to the 19th century.
Beyond the old commercial quay, there is the old customs house, Alfandega, which today houses the Cultural Centre; and shortly thereafter, the Belém Tower, a copy of the tower in Lisbon, which has been restored after the fish market had been moved. From here, you can stroll down Rua Libertad d’Africa, or Rua de Lisboa as it was called before independence from Portugal, which ends in front of Palacio do Povo (the people’s palace), the former residence of the governor.
Continuing along a street leading uphill past the town hall and the Church of Nossa Senhora da Luz, you will find yourselves in Praça Estrela, known for its azulejos, painted tiles typical of Portuguese architecture. As for the beaches, the choices are endless, beginning with Laginha: close to the port, it is a favourite with Mindelo residents. However, don’t miss out on the Baya de Gatas, the bay of the cats: a large natural pool in an unforgettable setting.