Maputo Travel Guide
Introduction to Maputo
The bustling capital of Mozambique, Maputo surprises many travelers with its vibrancy. With historic landmarks, architecturally significant structures, and even swimmable beaches within easy reach of downtown, there is much to see and do within city limits before setting out into the Mozambican countryside.
While there are crime concerns after dark, a fair amount of caution that any traveler would take in a place like Johannesburg or Cape Town will go a long way towards ensuring that the days that you spend in Maputo will be pleasant ones.
Cultural Attractions in Maputo
The first cultural point of interest that you should see while in Maputo is the Fortaleza da Nossa Senhora da Conceicao. Built in the early 18th century to defend Portugal’s latest colonial possession from its European rivals and pirates, it stills stands tall and proud today.
With ramparts built with reddish brown masonry, and many of the original cannon still in place, the authenticity of this place cannot be denied.
Looking for something that stands in direct opposition the colonial old-world feel of Fortaleza da Nossa Senhora da Conceicao? The appearance of Iglesia de San Antonio de la Polana is as contrarian as it gets, as its modernist architecture speaks to the future rather than the days of the past.
Designed to look like an inverted flower, this structure was built in 1962, and has been renovated once since then. A definite highlight for photographers looking to capture an iconic sight in Mozambique’s capital city.
Looking to get the perfect souvenir of the time you spent in Mozambique? Before you fly out of town, spend some time cruising the laneways of FEIMA, a cultural park in the heart of Maputo dedicated to showing off the best crafts, flowers and culinary highlights that can be found country wide.
All the stalls are manned by the artist that created the products that sit within them – no mass-produced crap here. Note that most of the products will not have a price on them, so you will have to exercise your haggling muscles.
Even if you are terrible at negotiating a great price, know that your lack of finesse in this quarter will help local artisans take home valuable money that they might not otherwise earn through other channels.
Other Attractions in Maputo
For a place so far away from Paris, France, it is surprising that Maputo has been impacted by the architectural vision of Gustave Eiffel and his associates. The design of Maputo Central Train Station is perhaps the best example of his influence, as the iron work on this commanding building make it one of the city’s best known structures.
Within, there is an art exhibition in the Sala de Espera where works made by locals are on display, and a museum detailing the history of railways in Mozambique can be found at the far end of the platform.
Casa do Ferro is another building in Maputo that Gustave Eiffel helped bring to life. Built in pieces in Belgium before being shipped around the Horn of Africa to Mozambique, it served as the home of this nation’s Governor General.
It didn’t serve that function for long however, as its all-iron construction proved to be a poor fit for life in a tropical country, leading the Governor General to seek cooler housing options.
Over the years, it has also played host to a geographic museum and the Instituto D. Amélia, and today is home to a number of government and non-profit offices, thanks to the advent of air-conditioning.
Those seeking to get a true feel for life in the capital city of Mozambique should take a walk through Maputo Central Market. Here, the agricultural flexibility of this nation’s flexible climates is on display, as you will find everything from tomatoes to tropical fruit here.
Do note that pickpockets operate within this congested market, so be sure to leave valuables you don’t need at the hotel/guesthouse, and maintain situational awareness as you browse its stalls.