Port Louis Travel Guide
Introduction to Port Louis
A modern but tranquil city of 148,000 citizens, Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius. As relaxing as this place can be at times, it is also the economic heart of an island nation that has outperformed all nations in the Sub-Saharan region, including South Africa.
Those looking to learn about the history and culture of this intriguing country will want to spend a day or two exploring its museums and markets before heading off to its world famous beaches.
Cultural Attractions in Port Louis
Start your cultural tour of Port Louis by visiting Aapravasi Ghat. After the abolition of slavery, the agricultural plantations in this British colony were left scrambling to find a workforce that was reliable and affordable.
India was a place that had an abundance of surplus workers that were willing to relocate to places around the world for a low rate of pay, and for a defined period of indentured servitude. Aapravasi Ghat was where these immigrants were processed before being released to their employers.
Over a half a million Indians passed through this building during its existence, profoundly changing the demographics of the island of Mauritius in the process. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this museum chronicles this unique chapter in this country’s history with a variety of exhibits featuring photos, artifacts, and monuments from this period.
Continue your Mauritian cultural education by checking out the Blue Penny Museum. Named for one of two Mauritian stamps dating back to the 1850’s that were repurchased by Mauritius Commercial Bank in 1993 and donated to this institution, it contains these artifacts as well as many others.
While there are many items relating to this nation’s artistic and cultural history, be sure not to miss the sculpture of *Paul and Virginia*, which was created by Mauritian-born French sculptor Prosper d’Épinay after he was inspired by the eighteenth-century novel of the same name, which was based in Mauritius.
With Mauritian society having received cultural inputs from the British Empire, France, the African continent, India, and China over its history, the Port Louis Bazaar has a flavor to it that makes it one of the world’s most remarkable markets.
Also known simply as the Central Market, this colorful shopping mecca trades in everything from fruits & vegetables to tourist knick-knacks. Repeat visitors may be disappointed that things have cleaned up significantly since a major renovation was completed here in 2004, but it still has a buzz to it that distinguishes it from its counterparts in the developed world.
Other Attractions in Port Louis
In addition to Mauritius’ rich human history, this island’s ecology also has a fascinating story to tell as well. By spending an hour or so at its Natural History Museum, you will learn about the sudden and tragic demise of the Dodo Bird, an endemic avian species of Mauritius that became sitting ducks for hungry Portuguese sailors in the 15th century.
Arriving from the African continent eons ago, they evolved to a flightless state after generations of having no natural predators to pressure them. While the museum is presently in a dusty and decrepit state, learning about one of the world’s most famous extinctions makes a visit here worthwhile.
Looking to get in a spot of shopping while in Mauritius? Head down to the Caudan Waterfront, as it is home to a number of shops, restaurants, and bars. There are also several casinos where you can try your luck at one of the many slot machines and table games that they offer.
Be sure to check out the craft and art galleries that are located here, as it is here where local artisans sell their wares; if you are looking for a souvenir to bring home to your family, this is a great place to finish your shopping.
When you are finished making your purchases, finish your evening here by going for a walk along the waterfront, as this place is favored by many locals in the evening hours.
Looking to get a smashing view of Port Louis from above? Head up to Citadel Fort Adelaide, which is a Moorish-style fortress that was built by the British in the 19th century. What it lacks in good looks, it makes up for with excellent panoramic views of the city below.
With authentic cannons in the foreground, you will be able to snap a picture that will wow your friends and family back home.