The Mozambican capital is a melting pot of African and other cultures, languages and influences. The historical buildings are surprisingly well maintained given years of civil war and serve as a reminder of the country’s colourful history, including slavery and trade routes, colonisation by the Portuguese and the post-independence battle for control between Renamo and Frelimo.
Our stopover in the city was fleeting, but we did manage a decent tour of downtown, on foot with a map as our only guide. It was a balmy Sunday morning and incredibly peaceful without the chaotic inner city traffic we encountered on our way to Ponta do Ouro only days before.
The most striking landmark is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Maputo, which our hotel room overlooked. Being seven stories above, the vista provided loads of photo opportunities at sunrise and sunset. The Maputo Bay dominates the background.
A short walk away is an imposing bronze statue of Samora Machel who led the country from independence in 1975 until his death in 1986.
A little further away we found The Iron House designed by Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame.
The Fort is well worth a visit. It’s immaculately maintained and interesting. Entry is free but donations are encouraged.
Historical landmarks and buildings aside, Maputo is dominated by apartment blocks, some new and well maintained, while others are faded and run down.
As always the big brands make it to the big cities with their glittering shopfronts contrasting with the lesser boutiques nearby.
If you don’t feel like the trip on foot, tuk-tuks are a novel way to travel but bargain with the owners. The first price is never the real price. Personally I half expected Mr Bean to be behind the wheel of one of these.