Luanda Things to Do Tips by scarm Top 5 Page for this destination
Luanda Things to Do: 36 reviews and 40 photos
The Fortaleza at the top of the hill is well worth a visit. I like this particular photo, which shows the shadows of the lattice work above the courtyard located in the interior of the fort. The fort was built in 1634, while the quarters which include this interior courtyard were constructed some time later. This is a low-keyed adventure, which includes strolling about the grounds, viewing military equipment on display, and enjoying scenic views of the city and the ocean.
Address: The Fortaleza São Miguel
Directions: From the praça (square) at the base of the fort along the Marginal, climb the cobblestone road, being careful for the large potholes and dodging the missing pavement, keep climbing to the top. Veer right, and drive up to the gates of the fort.
Another of the beautiful restored facades in the lower city, the portion to the right of this building houses the post office, while the portion to the far left is a cell phone shop that sells the latest in camera phones and other gagets. It is rare to see this building without hoardes of vehicles and pedestrians, and that is why I was out early on a Sunday morning with my camera - while driving my car, by the way. Usually, this street is packed with stop and go Luanda traffic, with vehicles inching and lurching to gain a space advantage over the other vehicles, while women carrying fruit in baskets on their heads compete to hawk their wares.
Address: Lower City - Luanda
Directions: Drive around the lower city on Sunday morning. Very tranquil and peaceful compared to all other times.
Between the red tiled roofs, the swaying palms, and the seascapes, sightseeing is one of the most worthwhile activities in Luanda. There is just not that much to do here. This is the view from the back of the Hotel Tivoli, which is the poorer neighbor to the upscale Tropico Hotel on the Rua da Missão. In this photo, you can see the Fortaleza, the Central Bank, the Ilha and the Bay. This is the same view, by the way as the view with the fireworks in this series of "Things to Do"
US Embassy in Luanda
A well-fortified fortress, the US Embassy was constructed at a very prominent location on the top of a hill overlooking the lower city. The Embassy took about 8 years to build, but I hear that it is finally just about finished. With the latest of electronic gagetry and hi-tech communications equipment, the Embassy is apparenty one of the most technologically advanced US Embassy complexes in the world. It cuts a very imposing profile on the skyline of Luanda, as it is one of the mosts recognizable buildings in the city, and at the top of the Serpentine Road, it's location is very high profile. Very few visitors to Luanda will have reason to visit, as all normal consular activities, such as visas, registration, etc. are handled at the US Consulate in an entirely different building known as the "Casa Inglesa".
Address: Top of the hill, overlooking the city.
Directions: At the top of the serpentine road. Drive by slowly, do not stop, keep moving, so as to not attract suspicion by the armed guards.
View from above the port.
There is just not that much to do in Luanda, but I found it interesting to see the contrasts, as in this photo of the port of Luanda from the outskirts of the upscale neighborhood of Miramar. Miramar is the neighborhood of the foreign consulates, the wealthy politicians, and the homes provided to expatriates by the multi-national foreign oil companies. Just below the upscale bairro (in this photo), you can see the Mosseque (or slum) in the foreground, and the busy Port of Luanda, an extremely busy container receiving port, along with a Sonangol products tank farm and the bay and Ilha do Cabo in the background.
Directions: Find a high point and look down. This photo was taken from Miramar, along the road that passes in front of the US Embassy.
The most attractive and most identifyable landmark in downtown Luanda is t he Central Bank Building. Built in a colonial style, with clay roof tiles and an impressive facade, the lobby is well worth visiting, as the walls are of some of the most beautiful azulejos around. These hand-painted blue and white tiles form beautiful historical scenes, and are certainly a must-see in downtown Luanda.
Address: On the Marginal (Avenue along the bayfront)
Directions: Hard to miss. Just look for the large tiled dome on the Marginal.
Restored Buildings Downtown
The lower city has numerous buildings that have seen refurbishment and fresh paint. This particular block is in the heart of the central shopping area, and the building in the center is one of the best stocked kitchen, bath, fabric, and toy stores in the city. This is the facade that is painted the dark magenta on bottom and the lighter pink on top. The displays cases are antiques themselves. Worth a look, but be sure to go when they are open. All of the stores close from noon until 14:00, and they close sharply at 18:00. Most places are open from 9:00 until 12:00 on Sunday.
Directions: These particular shops are downtown, near the Office of Foreign Affairs.
NEW YEARS EVE
I happened to be in Luanda for the New Years Eve Celebration, which was highlighted by a private party at the Fortaleza and a fireworks extravaganza that could be seen from all points in the lower city. The fireworks were actually quite impressive and continued for about one half an hour. Copius quantities of alcohol were consumed at the party at the fort. Events like these that attract crowds are very popular in Angola. I prefer to stay away from the fray though, as the crowds can be a little overwhelming.
Directions: Happens once a year! Of course.
Soon To Be Refurbished
Hey, these structures are scattered throughout Luanda, but please, do not think that this is not valuable property waiting to be turned into a new condo development. The locals recognize the value of the historic builidings, and tearing down the old facades is prohibited. There are numerous barely standing structures awaiting refurbishment. This refurbishment is not a dream, but a reality. There are numerous examples of buildings that have been restored in Luanda, many of them having been done remarkably well. Sometimes, the only part of the original builidig remaining after the re-construction is the facade itself, as every other part of the building, including the foundation is completely re-built to it's original colonial appearance (or better).
This one too will have it's turn.
Address: Lower City - Luanda
Directions: There are many scattered about, but look quickly, as they are rapidly being refurbished.
This is the Luanda Provincial Government Building. There are lots of government buildinngs in Luanda, as it is the seat of the government of the country, as well as the province.
Directions: Located slightly up the hill from the lower city by the bay. It is nestled in the heart of the "pink building" sector, not far from the Tropico Hotel. A nice walk on a weekend.
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