When people think of Mozambique, the first place that probably comes to mind is its capital city, Maputo, a former port town for Portuguese traders.
Maputo deserves attention because it is one of the most beautiful and magnificent cities on the African Continent. It is also home to interesting constructions and sites that humans would always be in awe of, not to mention its rich, huge cultural history.
To put it quite frankly, one has not really toured Africa if they’ve not visited Maputo.
For those of us intrigued by the name Maputo, it literally means The City of Acacias, owing to the fact that many of its streets are surrounded by Acacias.
It is famous for its exquisite cuisine; the ‘Prawns in Peri Peri Sauce’ spicy concoction is to die for, as its beautiful architectural style. Whether you are interested in or plan to visit Maputo for its history, culture, or food, here’s everything you should know about the city.
A 17 year Long Civil War Almost ravaged the City
Like most African countries, Mozambique has had its own share of civil wars, and because Maputo serves as its capital, the city saw most of the action. About one million people died in the war that lasted from 1981 – 1992, and one-third of the population had to flee their homes.
To remember the three decades of war, there is a large mural near Maputo’s main airport depicting the civil war, among other monuments around the city.
The city, however, quickly recovered from the economic and political crisis the war brought on and is now building an economy that centers around the port, iron, and textile manufacturing. (Read: 10 Most Beautiful Cities in North Africa)
Maputo Used to Be Racially Segregated
Maputo was formerly known as Lourenço Marques after the Portuguese navigator that explored the city. The Portuguese continued to develop the city to gain access to its resources and built their military fort there.
These colonial masters lived in the plush, ‘only whites’ area popularly known as the Cement City. They enjoyed privileges such as modern buildings, public gardens, parks, paved sidewalks, and other stylish amenities.
On the other hand, the residents and locals were forced to live in shanties on the outskirts of the town, where they made do with few resources.
The Blacks eventually found ways to resist the racial policies and organized anti-colonial protests. The Portuguese were then forced to flee, residents moved back to their rightful place, and Mozambique gained independence.
There Is A House In Maputo Made Entirely Of Iron
Casa de Ferro, known as the Iron House, was a prefabricated building imported from Belgium in 1982 and brought into Maputo to house the Governor of the Colony, Rafael Jacome de Andrade.
Although the building is an interesting masterpiece, it is not suitable for the hot tropical climate of Maputo, and so it was never used for what it was intended.
Today, it is a tourist attraction and is used as one of the offices of the National Directorate of Cultural Heritage. It was renovated in 2014 and equipped with air conditioners to make it habitable. It is also surrounded by botanical gardens that make the building cooler.
It is Home To Hotel Palona; A Must See Historical Landmark
The Grand Dame of Africa, as the Polana Serena Hotel is widely known, is one of the most famous restored hotels in not just Africa but the world as a whole.
It has played host to Kings and Queens, Ambassadors and Presidents, Princes and Elites, and also common travelers. It was originally built by the Portuguese colonizers who were hoping to construct a hotel known for notoriety, extravagant and reckless displays of wealth.
It is in a strategic location, about 15 minutes drive from the airport and two miles from the city center. It also provides a beautiful view of the Indian Ocean on one side and the big FEIRA Crafts Market (a shopper’s paradise) on the other side.
The hotel is beautifully furnished and is heavily influenced by British Colonial Architecture. The hotel welcomes guests with this ‘old world glamour and rustic sophistication.’ In addition to its services, guests can take tours of the sites around the city. (Read: Top 10 Most Incredible Islands to Visit in Africa)
The Central Railway Station was Constructed In The Beaux-Arts Style
According to travel books, this railway station is in the top 2 spots to visit in Maputo. The structure is very similar to French designs, and interestingly, its dome was designed by an associate of Gustav Eiffel, while Eiffel himself designed its facade.
The aesthetic is to look out for, specifically the gorgeous latticework, pillars, and verandas dignifying the dark green exterior.
While roaming through it, tourists enjoy the experience of a lifetime and get a glimpse of the rich Mozambican history. Apart from being an active train terminus, it contains food venues and hosts music events.
Many tourists are particularly interested in the rail museum, the Kulugwana Espaco Artistico, which displays paintings and sculptures by local artists. (Discover the Top Places for Ghana Outdoor Adventures)
Maputo City has been Featured In Big Hollywood Movies
Much has been said about the beauty that is the city of Maputo. It is, therefore, not a surprise that this city has starred in big Hollywood movies like Blood Diamond(2006), Ali(2001), and Interpreter(2005).
Initially, Maputo censored films and had a state-run film industry, but ever since it opened up production to international franchises, many of its landmarks have been backgrounds for movies, especially the Maputo Central Railway Station.
If you enjoy city nightlife, getting adventurous with street food, and appreciating culture, then consider visiting the vibrant coastal city of Maputo.
Remember that the best time to visit the capital city is when the days are sunny and the nights are cool, especially the winter months, which usually run from April to September.
Also, while the crime rate is not very high, the occasional pickpocketing can occur; you should therefore stay smart regardless of the hour.