Cape Verde still has a lot of old colonial architecture from Portugal. In the past, Portuguese families had large mansions built, painted in various colors. These beautiful houses were built in the sobra style. There are about 100 of these old mansions in tact and you can find them on various islands. For example in Praia (Santiago) or Mindelo (Sao Vicente). However, most Sobrados can be found in the capital Sao Filipe on the island of Fogo. The best place to admire them is in the center of Sao Filipe around the church. If you have a chance to look inside a Sobrado, this is highly recommended.
Sobrados are townhouses of two floors high and are often built around a courtyard. The courtyard was often shaded by the presence of trees and shrubs. The kitchen and other work spaces were on the ground floor. Here mainly slaves worked. On the first floor were the living quarters and the sleeping quarters of the owner’s family. From this first floor you had a good view of the street and the courtyard. There were balconies and galleries that overlooked the courtyard. And on the outside of the building there was often a wood-carved balcony. The houses were painted in pastel colors and their roof was covered with red roof tiles. Portuguese tiles and African hardwood were often used to add details to the mansion. Since the 1930s, many Cape Verdeans of the middle classes have returned to Cape Verde. They bought the Sobrados back from the Portuguese who were having financial difficulties at the time.