Maputo, Mozambique

April 11, 2023

When we sailed into the harbor, we saw this former building first! It is an indication of how dilapidated some of the city is, but there are still many interesting and attractive things to see here.

We were met by our guide, Hendy, for our 3 hour walking tour. The weather was cloudy, but no signs of rain, and the clouds kept the weather cooler than we might have expected.

We visited the Maputo Railway Station first. The building was named the third most beautiful train station in the world by Time magazine in 2015. There are pictures of the ten most beautiful hanging in the station. First is Gare du Nord in Paris, second is St Pancras in London and the only one from the US is Union Station in Los Angeles at number 8. It was rumored that Gustav Eiffel, the architect of Eiffel tower fame designed the station, but that isn’t true, it was an associate of his.

We walked through the city and were encountered everywhere by very persistant vendors. In many cities they leave you alone when you say no, here they kept following and begging for a sale. Sometimes Hendy had to ask them to leave.

We walked through the red light district. Hendy says that many of the uneducated women take up prostitution to make money for their families. It is not legal, but the authorities mostly look the other way. We saw a few working women on the sidewalks. Some of the original buildings are still in operation here as hotels, clubs and restaurants.

We spent time in the Maputo fortress which looks old but was only constructed in 1940 on the site of the old original fort.

The museum here was interesting. Artists did figures of the history of Maputo which are all carved from wood. It is both interesting and beautiful. The Portuguese ruled the country for 500 years and it was only in 1975 that Mozambique gained independence and Maputo became the national capital. Before that time, children had to be renamed – from their African name to a Portuguese/English name. So they were known as one name at home with their families and and by another at school. Portuguese is still the official language here.

The landing of Vasco de Gama

There are lots of colorful murals and buildings in the city.

There are also statues of dignitaries. The man on the horse was a Portuguese ruler and after independence, the people wanted the statue destroyed, but as a compromise, it was moved from the square to the fort. Now the statue of the much loved hero, political leader Samoras Moises Michel, is in the square.

We walked to the Tunduru botanical gardens which was small but a nice respite from the city streets. Thousands of fruit bats live in the trees here, but I couldn’t get a good picture. You could only see their wings moving, there were so many. The fruit bats are out during the day and the ones that eat inects come out at night. There are also almond trees in the gardens.

Hendy showing us an almond
Not sure you can spot any fruit bats

The Catholic cathedral was our next stop. It looks clean and modern.

This Pope is beloved here
Beautiful spiral staircase

We also walked through the Central market. Hair extensions are very popular among African women and there are many stands selling all types of extensions and wigs. Cashews are a big product here and we tasted many samples.

City Hall is a metal building which was designed by Eiffel and brought to the city in pieces to be reconstructed on the site.

We enjoyed Hendy who provided a wealth of information about the country and the city. He didn’t shy away from the more sad political situation and corruption which occurs throughout west Africa, and he answered every question with thoughtful insight.

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