A couple of weeks ago I posted about the Tofo section of my African adventure, well it now time to share with you my adventures through the capital city of Mozambique, Maputo.
A bit of historic background
Mozambique was a Portuguese colony that then became a Portuguese province and state of Portugal, finally gaining its independence in 1975. The country which is 9 years from celebrating its half a century anniversary of independence, continues to be working through its political circumstances and according to many locals, there is still a great disparity in conditions offered to both classes in society. In fact a class system is very much still in place which is sometimes quite an odd experience.
In architectural terms, it is like walking into 70’s Lisbon with a mix of modern buildings. Ruins everywhere, buildings falling apart at the seems, but always reminding you that it was a colonial area. It is absolutely a home away from home for me, it felt so familiar yet so distant from everything I know and love.
I had the chance to visit two beautiful museums whilst out there. Granted in London we have some of the biggest and most renowned museums, the National Art Gallery, the Tate, the Natural History Museum, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert, the Science Museum and I could go on and on until we have covered every nook and cranny of history and culture in the capital. However, nothing is more charming and original than the Art Museum in Maputo.
We are not allowed to take photos of any of the paintings inside, but it was stunning. Many of the paintings depicted the struggle and strife of the black community with dreary dark colours that made the spectator sense the suppression. Others were very bright and reminiscing of the colours of Africa, the bright and varied scheme depicting traditional scenes as well as modern African life. A small but truly fantastic and captivating selection of art.Below you can see a small selection of photos of its exterior.
I also got the opportunity to go to the Natural History museum, which I could completely recommend to everyone for the following 2 reasons:
- The ONLY museum in the world that shows the fetus progression of an elephant – with real fetuses
- The entire section of the museum which shows the development of Tribes in Mocambique. Honestly the most interesting section with real objects of their lives.
All the animals in the museum are stuffed, as in actually using their skin and skeleton, toes and teeth. It is a fascinating jungle to visit and learn about the species that roamed the Mozambican territory.
As I mentioned on my previous post about Tofo, I did not expect Mozambique to be such a green country. Naturally one of the things I enjoyed most during my stay was to roam to city gardens and get lost in their beauty. I got the opportunity to visit the Jardim Tunduru and the Jardim dos Namorados (lovers garden.) Note, do not go to the lovers gardens with two other couples, I found myself playing photographer for four hours and seriously considering jumping off the cliff in which the garden is located down to rocky seas below. The Jardim dos Namorados is also located close to the Miradouro – which is at the top of a cliff with a spectacular view of both the city and sea surrounding it.
Aside from the museums, I always like to visit historical buildings. They often hold small exhibitions in these spaces that give you some context and sense of political history and how it has shaped the country you are currently visiting. Here are a few of the buildings I loved and would recommend you visit:
- Fortaleza – the fortress built by the Portuguese settlers. It is small but ripe with Portuguese influence and pieces of history. Canyons and ammunition galore as well. Also an awesome place for gorgeous views to the sea.
- Caminhos Ferreos de Maputo (CFM) – this building is STUNNING. It is the old railway, home to still some functioning train lines, but now mostly used for merchant lines rather than service lines. It has some old steam trains on display, a little history section and some awesome restaurants, check it out.
- A Casa de Metal – the metal house, one of 7 around the world by Gustave Eiffel, it is said that these buildings were all built and transported exactly as they are across the world. It is a tin house basically but it is very cool and again there is a small museum section that shares the history of the house itself as well as the city of Maputo – located next to the Tunduru Gardens
- Igreja da Polana – Polana church, very close to Feima (Feira de Maputo) it has a unique structure and it just a beautiful building. At night the light shines through its 8 axis of stained glass windows and it looks mesmerising.
Taking Africa home with you
If you are the sort of person who visits a place and absolutely has to take it home with you, you have to visit FEIMA, the arts and crafts fair with EVERYTHING Mozambique. I visited during the holiday period and felt it was only right to take presents home that were Mozambican themed, plus a batique or two (the paintings in tapestry that you see below) to hang on my walls. Our home is such an eclectic mixture of decorations as my parents and I are all globe trotters, that a bit of southern African artisan pieces fit very nicely.
GO TO MOZAMBIQUE
It is historical, it is gorgeous, green and full of inviting people. I think it was mostly made by the fact that I was surrounded with friends who are locals and knew exactly what they were talking about. I could not believe how little money I spent there, so in terms of a flight and visa it might cost a bit of money but staying in Mozambique and enjoying Mozambique to its fullest, eating out etc, it works out as a very accessible and cheap holiday full of opportunities for everyone to experience. It is a beautiful place with beautiful people and I don’t feel I got my complete fill of it. So I am already plotting my return in 2017/2018. Keep your eyes peeled for two more posts on Mozambique before I put this adventure behind me for a while and move on to the next travel adventure.