If you are planning a trip to Mozambique you will probably fly into the capital city, Maputo. It is worth spending a day exploring the best sights in Maputo before heading further afield.
Mozambique was originally a Portuguese Colony. These influences can still be seen dotted around the city, but much the city was destroyed during the civil war that wracked the country for 15 years. Slowly the country began to rebuild and in the last 10 years, tourism has started to develop, although it is still in its infancy.
It is a laid-back city with palm tree-lined streets, old colonial buildings, shanties and ugly concrete buildings that stand shoulder to shoulder. There is also Soviet styled architecture from the 1950’s when Cuba and Russia had political sway here.
Mozambique is best known for its beach holidays, but dig a little deeper and there is so much more to discover.
The best sights in Maputo
The Iron House (Casa de Ferro)
The house was designed for the governor of Maputo in 1892 by none other than Gustav Eiffel. The name gave it away, of course, but yes, this is the same person who built the Eiffel Tower. The order was placed by the Colonial Governor and it was constructed in Belgium. It was intended to be the Governor’s residence. Obviously, as it is made from metal it was highly impractical for the subtropical climate. It was never used for its intended purpose.
The railway station
This is an interesting building, would you believe, once again designed by Monsieur Eiffel. I find this fascination with Eiffel quite odd, being that these monuments are in Africa. I guess that it is directly related to the fact that it was a Colony. The building is a classical design, more like and sultan’s palace with marble, wrought-iron lattice work and arches. Look out for the bar on the platform. There are often exhibitions of local artwork inside the building and you might find something special to take home with you.
The fish market
It is probably not the most hygienic place that you have ever been in your life, but the fish is brought to the market straight from the local fishing boats. The small boats pull up onto the beach and the fish makes its way to the market a short distance away. The market is surrounded by small cafes and restaurants that will happily cook your purchase for you, but be sure to negotiate a price first. It is the perfect place to have the freshest fish imaginable, simply cooked and delicious.
The Central Market
I thought that the market just sold fresh produce, but I was mistaken. It sells everything imaginable, brooms, plastic buckets, spice and local chillies. If you arrive early in the morning you will see tables piled with goods and you can enjoy a stroll around without the crowds bothering you.
Along the road, you will find brightly coloured printed items. They are great gifts to take home but remember to bargain as the first price is never anywhere near the real price.
Sunset and dinner
Restaurant Costa del Sol
The restaurant dates from 1938 and is about 20-minute drive north along the coast. Over the years it claims to have had many famous visitors. It is nothing to write home about but the setting is amazing to watch the sunset. Another very good reason for visiting is to try the local prawn’s peri peri ( a local chilli – see above). These are the best that I had during my stay and just writing about them makes my mouth water!
Restaurant Costa del Sol :10429 Avda. Marginal; +258 21 451 662
Cafe Sol Coffee
Although not strictly a sight I must mention Cafe Sol Coffee. Companhia do Cafe is a coffee roaster in Maputo who source fair trade beans from the Southern African Region. They buy from local farmers and cooperatives. The end result is a premium coffee that is delicious. So if you are looking for a caffeine fix then look no further.
Cafe Sol Coffee : Rua Beijo da Mulata 98, +258 82 223 3765
- Mozambique was a Portuguese colony for nearly 500 years
2. The tallest building in Maputo is 33 floors high.
3. If you play scrabble, Mozambique will score more points than any other one-word country.
4. Mozambique is the only country to have a modern weapon on its flag
5. Mozambique is the only single word country that includes all 5 vowels.
6. It is the 35th largest country in the world in terms of land area which means that it is almost 4 times as big as the UK
7. The coast is 2425 km (1500 miles) long which is about the same distance as the East Coast of the USA.
8. The main exports are aluminium, cashews, timber, prawns, cotton, sugar, timber, citrus fruit and electricity.
You can walk around the city centre during the day, but steer clear of the central business district at night.
“Tuk-Tuks” are also an easy way to see the city. The drivers are usually more fluent in English than the yellow cabs
This is a malaria zone so take precautions before you arrive.
Maputo is great for a day, but it is not the best part of Mozambique. The beaches and the marine life are spectacular and rival that of the Maldives and Mauritius, but without the sophistication. The coastline is unspoilt, the food is delicious and the people are friendly, but it is a little rough around the edges. If you can accept this then you will love the country.
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