Ribeira Grande is the modest capital of Santo Antão. It is a town that lies behind the mountain range and that you reach by taking the Estrada de Corda. You will find a school, administrative buildings and a relatively lively centre. It is good to stroll around the pretty square bordered by a large church (which needs renovation), beautiful colonial buildings, and in the alleys. It was founded at the end of the 16th century by the Count of Santa Cruz, Mascarenhas, who initially named it Povoação de Santa Cruz. And even today, its inhabitants have kept the habit of calling it Povoação. Approximately 2,800 people live in this town wedged between mountains and facing a beach of rocks and pebbles. The sea is very rough. Other smaller but well watered valleys, such as Ribeira de Chã de Pedra and João Alfonso, are nearby, as well as villages, including Coculi and its church, which has the biggest bell in the country. This is where the Rotcha brand mineral water, locally produced mountain water from Santo Antão, is bottled. There is a second production unit on the island of Santiago. From Ribeira Grande, there are two options: the discovery of the north-west of the island, wild and rugged, or that of the north-eastern coast, which is home to villages located on the mouth of the ribeiras, the fertile valleys. In both cases, hikers will be delighted.
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