Mozambique Island, Africa
Imagine Zanzibar as it was 20 years ago. This is Mozambique Island - a tiny island just off the coast of Nacala Province, with a diverse and thriving population of about 60 000 people and a history dating back more than 500 years. Until 1898 this was the capital of the Portuguese colony of Mozambique and the focal point of their trade and industry.
Since the end of the war in 1984, its huge potential has been recognised and the entire island has been proclaimed a World Heritage Site. The largest and oldest building is St. Sebastiao. This is a solid 12 metre high colossus on the northern tip of the island built nearly 400 years ago. Here they placed 400 cannons all pointing towards the Indian Ocean in readiness for an attack. The fort remained impenetrable and even the mighty Dutch were repelled in 1607 and again in 1608. Within its high walls is The Chapel of our Lady of the Bulwarks, constructed in 1522, and said to be the oldest European building still standing in the Southern Hemisphere.
The rest of the island is a maze of narrow streets hemmed by tall buildings with a bustling harbour and market. Of particular interest is the 7th century palace museum which is crammed with old cannons, muskets, sedan chairs and other memorabilia gathered by the Portuguese colonialists from round the world. Since the 1960s the island has been connected to the mainland by a narrow bridge which is about 3 km in length. It’s passable by normal vehicles, but too narrow (thank goodness) for buses and large trucks.