Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde IslandsPraia is the capital of the Cape Verde Islands and its biggest city with over 113,000 inhabitants. Praia became capital in 1770, following the decline of nearby Ribeira Grande (now Cidade Velha) and was granted city status in 1858. Nowadays, as well as being the country's administrative centre, it is also an important port which exports coffee, sugar cane and tropical fruits.
Charles Darwin visited Praia on his famous voyage on-board the HMS Beagle and began his journal here. It was at Porto Praya on St. Jago - Cape de Verd Islands [sic] that he first witnessed tropical vegetation and tasted his first Banana.
Most of the interesting colonial buildings and museums are located on or are near to the Praca Alexandre Albuquerque, an impressive square in the old part of the city known as Plato (Plateau). Highlights include the 19th Century Palácio Presidencial (Presidential Palace), the Igreja Nossa Senhora da Graca (Church) and the Palacio da Cultura which also houses an Internet Cafe and Bookshop. Nearby, views over the bay and the Ilheu de Santa Maria can be enjoyed from the City's (slightly derelict) fortified walls complete with canons.
The bustling Fruit and Vegetable Market, located on the Avenida 5 de Julio, is worth a visit to see the Island's agricultural produce and taste one of those Bananas!.