With its wide avenidas and engaging Mediterranean atmosphere, Maputo
may come as something of a surprise to anybody expecting a city ravaged by
civil war. The first impression of Maputo is that it is just about the
cleanest African capital, remarkably smart and well-maintained, with a
practically constant supply of electricity, brightly lit pavements and
traffic lights that work, freshly painted buildings and weel-maintained
surfaced roads - not to mention some of the most orderly drivers on the
The jacaranda, flame tree and palm-lined avenidas with their numerous
street cafes have a relaxed, hassle-free, Africa-meets-Mediterranean
atmosphere that is distinctively Mozambican.
Maputo lends itself to casual exploration on foot, with several
interesting colonial buildings and a buzzing street life.
The Cathedral, situated at Independence Square, is one of the most impressive examples of Maputo's architectural splendour. Built in dedication to Nossa Senhora da Conceição, Our Lady of Conception, the elaborate interior complete with stained glass windows is truly awe inspiring. Catholic services are held daily with several services on Sundays.
"Aqui é Portugal" (This is Portugal) is the
phrase inscribed in the pavement outside the Conselho Municipal. The
grandeur of Portuguese colonial days is exhibited in this neo-classical
building, also located at Independence Square. The building, which was
completed in 1945, currently houses the mayoral chambers and city council
Casa de Ferro
This unique prefabricated building was designed in 1892. The steel structure, bolted together piece by piece, was intended to serve as a residence for the Governor General of Mozambique. However, once completed, the building proved to be far too hot for Maputo's climate and, as a result, never served its original purpose. Today, the Casa de Ferro houses the offices of the Department of Museums.
Samora Machel Statue
The bronze statue of Samora Machel (1933-1986), Mozambique's first President, stands at the entrance to the Tunduru Gardens.
For nature lovers, a walk through the botanical gardens off Av. Samora
Machel provides an enchanted respite from the city streets. The gardens
were designed in 1885 by the renowned English gardener Thomas Honney.
Honney also designed similar gardens for the Sultan of Turkey and the King
of Greece. The greenhouse is also worth a visit but you must first obtain
permission at the office. Afterwards, if you fancy a game of tennis, the
Mozambican Federation of Tennis have their courts at the top end of the
gardens. Or, if you prefer something tall and cool, above the courts is a
restaurant and bar run by Radio Moçambique.
Natural History Museum
The museum is housed in a palace built in the Maunelini style (a sort
of Portuguese Gothic) and decoreted with wonderfully ornamental
plaster-work, one of the finest buildings in Maputo. Unfortunately, the
collections housed in the museum are somewhat dusty and dilapidated, many
of them look like they might have been there since the museum was moved to
the building in 1913.
Louis Trichardt Trek Memorial
Located off Av. Josina Machel the memorial holds the remains of Louis
Trichardt, a South African explorer who died of malaria after travelling
2000 miles from South Africa to Lourenço Marques in search of land.
The route of the journey can be traced on a beautiful water mosaic.
Praça dos Trabalhadores
The war-faring woman of stone, presiding over the station entrance, is a monument to the Great War of 1914-1918. It is the work of the Portuguese sculptor Rui Gameiro. Local legend surrounding this statue states that it honours a courageous woman who rid the area of a deadly cobra (rising up from the woman's feet), which had killed many of the local people. The notorious creature met its match when it plunged to its death into a boiling cauldron of porridge balancing on the woman's head.
C.F.M. Railway Station
This recently renovated building will whisk you back to the romantic
days of rail travel. On display are the two original, turn-of-the-century,
wood and steam locomotives. The structure, designed in 1910 by Mr. Eiffel,
consists of wrought iron features, marble arches and a metal dome on top
of the building. Today, trains leave the station for South Africa and the
Situated at the Praça 25 de Junho (opposite the port entrance)
is the Fortaleza, one of Maputo's oldest buildings. Now a Military Museum,
the fort houses many of the relics of Mozambique's colonial past including
statues of Antonio Enes and Mouzinho de Albuquerque as well as the remains
of Chief Ngungunhane, one of the early African rulers who fought against
colonial domination. The fort is open for visitors on Saturday and Sundays
Porto de Maputo
The first sea faring vessel arrived at this spot in 1502. In 1784 the
port was built and ships were able to berth alongside the wharf. However,
it was not until 1867, when the Portuguese established themselves here
permanently and started developing the area, that the port was used for
commercial trade. After a number of years of very little activity due to
the war, the port is again active with vessels from all over the world.
Eduardo Mondlane Statue
Take a drive out to view the statue of Dr. Eduardo Mondlane (1920-1969), the first President of FRELIMO. It stands at the top of Av. Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo's main street. If you are interested in learning more about this facinating individual, the Museu da Revolução has a number of historical exhibits honouring the late president.
Praça dos Herois
Heroes' Square, not far from the airport, is another site worth visiting. The massive star-shaped monument holds the remains of Mozambique's heroes of the revolution. Placed against the backdrop of a striking mural by one of the country's famous artists, Malangatana, the square depicts the struggles of Mozambique. To visit the monument you need to obtain permission from the Department of Information on Av. Eduardo Mondlane, above the B.I.P. (Information) office. Please note that you may take photographs of the wall, but not of the monument itself.
The Marginal of Maputo
In addition to the city center walk, it's very pleasant to walk along
the seafront along the Avenida Marginal, which is usually pretty quiet,
with just a few anglers and other promenaders, and a nice breeze through
The trip down this palm fringed beach-front avenue, stretching from Av. 25 de Setembro to the fishing village past Costa do Sol, provides a stunning view of Maputo Bay and lends a tropical island feel to the city. On a clear day the island of Inhaca can be seen in the distance.
Here's a taste of what can be found as you travel along this popular
Starting at the area known as the baixa, you will find the fairground, Feira Popular on your right. The Feira, as its name suggests, is one of the most lively night spots in Maputo. Its appeal lies in its festive circus atmosphere and a range of over fifteen bars and restaurants, many serving local and international dishes. Following the Feira is FACIM, the grounds of Mozambique's annual international trade fair. As you continue down Av. 25 de Setembro, you will next come across the Escola Náutica (Naval School) before the road leaves town. On your right you will see the classic building of Clube Naval, dating back to 1913. The club has a swimming pool, tennis courts and a restaurant.
It is the best place to launch a boat for those wanting to fish in the bay or head across to Inhaca. The little rondavels of Artedif appear next on your right. This shop, run by disabled people, sells a large range of curios and leather goods. They also do leather repairs and make leather items to order. At the traffic circle, before the campground, reed furniture, carvings and ceramics are sold. These items can be taken through the border without any trouble (for those going through Swaziland, obtain a pass from the veterinary department at the border post). The campground Campismo occupies the 10 acres of land on the left. Rates are reasonable but facilities are extremely basic. The next five or six kms have reasonable swimming beaches when the tide is high. At low tide the water recedes and you are almost able to walk across the bay to the nearby island. Watch out for the current in the channel and be sure to keep track of the changing tide so you don't end up stranded. Come lunch time, there is no better place than the cool sanctity of Costa do Sol. Satisfy your appetite while admiring the beach front view. Or, for something a bit different, try the fishing village four kms on from Costa do Sol where an informal restaurant serves fresh seafood right on the beach. The fishing village has hundreds of wooden fishing boats returning in the afternoon with their catch. Behind Costa do Sol are the mangroves (good for bird watching) which are breeding grounds for a variety of marine life in the bay.
You can choose to stay in any of the following hotels:
Polana, Cardoso, Terminus, Moçambicano.
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