Roça Sundy

This nearly abandoned plantation was once witness to an eclipse that proved Einstein's theory of relativity.

Roça Sundy is a beautifully restored cocoa plantation house in the heart of the African rainforest. It is located on the remote, little known and utterly beautiful tropical island of Principe, the smallest of the two islands that make up São Tomé and Principe.

Today, most of the plantations (Roças) have been absorbed back into the local communities, but Roça Sundy has been transformed into an affordable guest house comprising just twelve en-suite rooms for lovers of nature, sustainability and escape. Roça Sundy’s two main houses have been carefully restored to create a journey back in time, with the maximum comfort. In keeping with the owner’s strong and heartfelt commitment to sustainability, all of the restoration work has been carried out by local builders, especially trained for the job, using recycled materials, wherever possible.

You will be looked after by an outstanding team of staff who have been recruited from within the local community to deliver a personal, friendly and authentic service. More than 90% of the team are local and have received a year-long training from the Azores School of Tourism.

In 1919 famous British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington travelled to the island of Príncipe to find the perfect location from which to view a predicted eclipse. Eddington hoped to capture starlight being shifted by the sun’s gravity, thus proving Einstein’s model of physics over Newton’s. The eclipse was necessary as it would be the only time he could view the light unobscured from the sun. He found the perfect spot in Roça Sundy.

The Sundy plantation (roça translates to plantation) was a one time cocoa and coffee farm that had eventually turned over to the royal family of Principe who used the site as a vacation home. With a great deal of land close to the jungle, the ambient light was minimal and Eddington was able to set up shop in the main house. As he predicted, Eddington found slight curvature of the light and after publishing his findings, much of the scientific community deemed it the first concrete example of Einstein’s theory.

Today the plantation site lies in great disrepair as though the jungle has decided to take over. People still live in the old slave’s quarters, while the master houses are locked. Old farming and processing equipment still litter the overgrown wilds of the plantation grounds, but there is precious little evidence of Eddington’s once groundbreaking research. There is a gate keeper and the plantation is more like a village where people live near (and in) the derelict buildings.


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