Ilha de Moçambique (Mozambique Island) is located in Nampula province off northern Mozambique, between the Mozambique Channel and Mossuril Bay. The island is quite small (about 3 km long and 200-500 meters wide), but it is home to a rich history as it was the country’s first capital (now Maputo) prior to 1898. The island is glowing with tightly packed buildings, architecture unique to the Portuguese colonial era, and beautiful sights of the Indian Ocean. The island is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Mozambique’s fastest growing tourist destinations, complete with small cafes, hostels, and water activities (Lonely Planet).
Today, a friend and I travel across the 3.8 km bridge to access the island for our very first time. The island is accessible by car, motorcycle, bicycle, or by foot, and the bridge stretches out across the water with beautiful views of the island ahead. We are told by a couple who are joining us on our journey to the island that it’s home to about 14,000 people, has delicious food ranging from seafood to Italian cuisine, and it’s possible to spot dolphins and other wildlife swimming off the coast. Needless to say, we are excited.
We walk around the city in early afternoon to take in the environment of the colorful city, speak with locals about its rich history, and capture images of some of its architecture’s most beautiful elements: the doors. Because of the island’s size, the buildings are constructed closely together, creating a labyrinth of alleyways, complete with door after door of unique design. The first door we come across (above) turns out to be my favorite. The rest are complete with their own unique design.
This door is spotted inside a backpacker’s hostel, where the interior resembles much of the outside city with exposed walls, access to an open-air roof with furniture and views of the city, and hidden rooms complete with netted beds for visitors.
The bright blue doors of the island remind me of the doors in Namapa with their eye-catching colors displayed against the chipped and destroyed stone walls. Much of the city is in this shape, as many of the buildings are starting to fall apart due to the environment and time.
The yellow. It’s all about the yellow with this door. Many of the buildings are painted with yellow that has since started to chip and fall from the stone.
We lose ourselves in the city as the day’s light starts to fade. The island is without power because of the floods that struck the northern part of the country. Generators begin to start throughout the city, and we find our way along the main street to an area with small shops, complete with buzzing lights, cold drinks, and music that closes the day and welcomes the dark night.
While there are countless doors throughout the island, we also photograph sights around the island, including one of the country’s earliest hospital (above), the many beaches, and inside the Palace and Chapel of São Paulo, built in 1610 as a Jesuit College and eventually used as the Governor’s residence, now a museum (with an entrance fee of 100MT).
Sights Around the Island
Inside the Governor’s Mansion
Questions? Comments? Contact me!