Promoted in the status of city on the 12th of July 1922, the former town of S. Filipe on Fogo (Fire) Island is Cape Verde's second oldest inhabited spot only Cidade Velha (Old City) in Santiago is older. The city of S. Filipe grew up on a cliff, looking out over the sea from an arid and waterless hillside. It is known for its famous Sobrados (literally wooden floors - large houses or mansions) which are now considered to be part of the country's cultural heritage. There are around fifty of these historic buildings, which are to be found in the older, tourist part of the city and are properly identified and protected. Some of them are quite well conserved, but others are less so and a few are in a state of disrepair.

These mansions are linked to the original settlement of Fogo Island, which resulted from the immigration of families from Portugal (the Algarve and Alentejo) and the African Coast (Negroes and slave) As Teixeira de Sousa wrote, in the old days the monkey lived in the rocks, the Negroes in the bush, the mulattos in the workplace and the whites in the mansions.

Whoever visited S. Filipe in 1 91 0 would have seen these famous mansions where the white families who descended from the former colonial settler lived. The building normally had a ground and first floor and were designed in the old colonial style: large, surrounded with verandas and covered with Marseilles tiles. The aristocrats kept thoroughbred horses in their gardens and rode them when they celebrated the festivals of S. Sebastian, S. Filipe, S. Joan and S. Pedro The houses reflected a certain degree of financial well being on the part of their owner, each of whom had a copy of his house in the /countryside where he would spend the summer. All these comfortable country dwelling were large and surrounded by trees. Unfortunately practically all that is left of most of the remaining country building are ruins.

The first Sobrados

The first Sobrados were built around the Igreja Matriz. They appeared in the mid XVIII century and one of the first residents was Father Amaro Sacramento Monteiro.

Thanks to their architectural value from a historic and artistic point of view these old buildings now constitute the most important element in the landscape of the city's historic centre.

They were built using' special techniques and structures which were adapted to the local climate and we're marked' by a slave-owning society in which every space had a social function designed to impose hierarchies and segregation.

Keine Kommentare: