"Ilha de Mocambique" Ilha de Mocambique by trilbi

Ilha de Mocambique Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 15 photos

Ilha de Mocambique was in the past the capital of Mozambique and a very important Arab maritime center in the Indian ocean since the 10th century. In the late 15th century Vasco de Gama landed here and few years later he claimed it for Portugal. Due to its natural harbour and the geographic location, it assumed prominence in Portugal's campaign to take over trade with India and the East Indies. After the opening of the Suez canal in late 18th century and the possibility to reach India from Europe without passing the Cape of Good Hope, its strategic importance gradually diminished.
The architecture of the island is very remarkable. The oldest building is St. Sebastiao, a fortress build on the northern tip of the island. The fort withstood many attacks due to its massive walls and two huge underground drinking water cisterns, which were until recently the only public resource of drinking water on the island.
Walking around the island it's easy to notice the distinction in two areas. The northern side, called Stone Town, includes the very beautiful old Portuguese palaces that are now starting to be restored, and gives a sense of calm. Completely different is the atmosphere in the southern side, the Makuti Town with its maze of narrow streets, where most of the people who came back to the island from the mainland after the Portuguese departure, live. Despite these big differences in the population there is an incredible architectural homogeneity in the island since the building techniques as well as the materials and the decorative principles used were the same.
Ilha de Mocambique attracts many young people because there is one of the few secondary schools of the region and I am sure it's going to change very much in the next years. I am very happy I had the oppurtunity to visit it now, this is a place where I wish I can come back.


"Seen from the sea, or a bird's eye view... the island is a unique woman, lying sensuously in a state of abandon, in a sea of colours, sun-worshipping on the beach, with a plaything at her feet. That toy is the Island of São Lourenço which is flanked by two tiny fantasies made of rock and sand. These are the small islands of Goa and Sena. These are all enclosed within a shell-shaped bay, over which the waters ebb and flow and small boats with white sails can be seen in the distance. The boats look like seagulls, bobbing up and down on the waves. Dry land circles the bay." Luís de Camões, Os Lusíadas (1572)

  • Last visit to Ilha de Mocambique: Aug 2002
  • Intro Written Sep 13, 2002
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  • Intrepidduck's Profile Photo
    Mar 26, 2004 at 6:30 AM

    What a wonderful backwater place to visit, I hope to visit it unspoilt still in a few years time on my Cape to Cape Bicycling Trek.


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