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UNESCO World Heritage Site | Ilha de Moçambique, Mozambique

August 29, 2010

Former government official residence. Standing tall and proud, after all these years!

A perfect living, breathing museum, a blend of African and European street scenes.

Ilha de Moçambique was the capital of Mozambique for nearly four centuries under Portuguese colonization before it was moved to Lourenco Marques (now Maputo), and had been used as a major base for the Arab traders long before the arrival of the Portuguese.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site was a major Arab port and boat building centre long before Vasco da Gama visited in 1498. The name of the island (Portuguese: Moçambique) is derived from Musa Al Big, an Arab trader who first visited the island and later lived there. This name was subsequently taken to the mainland country which is modern-day Mozambique, and the island was renamed Ilha de Moçambique (Island of Mozambique). The Portuguese established a port and naval base in 1507, and built the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte, in 1522, considered as the oldest surviving European building in the Southern hemisphere.

The fascination of finding buildings still standing. A European legacy, Museum of Religious Arr [L], and San Antonio Church [R].

Ilha’s a magical mix of colonial Portuguese and old Swahili architecture, split into two districts – the old “Stone Town” in the North and the “Reed Town” in the South which is set down from the main streets. You will find a museum in the old Palácio dos Capitães-Generais, a big red building in Stone Town.

The historical island in Africa that gets most of the attention is Zanzibar, but Mozambique’s Ilha the Mocambique is the place to be when it comes to fascinating African islands in the Indian Ocean. Once it was the capital of Mozambique, but the city dozed off into a long sleep when the Portuguese colonial rule decided to move the capital to the upmost south of the country. A collection of historic early colonial buildings in various states of decay, on an island where time seems to have come to a standstill. The bridge to the mainland is so narrow that two cars can only pass if one of them recludes into the few spared out parking along the bridge. Hence the atmosphere on the island is laidback and quiet. It has one bookshop, a few hotels and a tiny market. Slowly but surely, international tourists are discovering the place, so if you want to see it in its current state: travel there now.

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