Island of Mozambique
Port and slave trading post.
Chief city of the district of the Island of Moçambique (Ihla of Moçambique).
Location and site
At the edge of the Indian Ocean, and 4 km. from the African coast, the coral island of Moçambique stretches 3 km. from the northeast to the southwest. Its western side faces a harbour bay. The small island of Saint Lawrence, located to the south, makes up part of this World Heritage Site.
The island was entirely urbanised from north to south according to four distinct zones that reflected periods from 1500 to 1900: the quarter of the first fortress, the harbour city, the quarter of the huts, and the more airy quarter of the residences and gardens. Narrow, sinuous streets become wide and rectilinear. In the second half of the 19th century, the city possessed the same configuration, dimensions and appearance that it conserves to this day.
Over the centuries, the homogeneity of the harbour city of Moçambique was ensured through the continuous use of the same techniques, materials, and colours, as well as the consistency of the plans of its residences, their flat roofs, their decor and the rhythm of their openings. The city's architecture incorporates features of the Bantus, the Arabs, the Indians and the Portuguese.
The island of Moçambique is an eminent example of an architecture which was a mixture of local traditions, Portuguese influences, and to a lesser degree, Arab and Indian influences. (IV) The island is an important testimony to the establishment and the development of Portuguese maritime routes linking Europe to the Indian subcontinent, and thus, to all of Asia. (VI)
- The Island of Moçambique was the southernmost stopover point on the Passage to India. The Arabs, who arrived at the coast around 900, had a monopoly over the spice trade.
- When searching for the Passage to India in 1498, Vasco de Gama stopped at the island of Moçambique. Another Portuguese, the spy Pero de Covilha, had already landed there in 1498.
- In the 16th century, the Portuguese colonists evicted the Arabs and established a trading post on the island. They erected two fortresses, one in 1508 and one in 1587. The trade activities of this island capital were concentrated along the edge of the bay. The Dominicans built churches and convents, as did the Jesuits until 1759.
- In the 18th century, the island was still a stopover point rather than a real colony. Detached from the Vice-royalty of India (Goa), Portuguese Western Africa went under the control of Lisbon in 1752.
- Following the Central and South African discoveries by Livingstone between 1850 and 1865, British interest in Moçambique stimulated the Portuguese to pursue their prospects there.
- When the slave trade became more widespread at the end of the 18th century, Moçambique's prosperity led to its expansion near the bay. After the local abolition of the slave trade in 1878, the port was integrated into the plantation economy.
- In 1898, the capital was transferred to Lourenço Marques (later Maputo). The construction of the railroad in 1913 and the new port in 1951 contributed to the decline of the island of Moçambique.
|Mr. Alfredo Artur Matata|
|City of the Island of Mozambique|
City Council of Island of Mozambique
Island of Mozambique, Province of Nampula, Republic of Mozambique
|Mr. Eneas Comiche|
Mayor of the City of Maputo
Caixa Postal 251
|Mme Ana Elisa de Santana Afonso|
45 Dr. Egas Moniz C.P. 3674
|Mr. Momade Ossumane|
Ilha de Moçambique, Republica de Moçambique
|Ms. Maria Angela Penicela N' Kane|
|National Directorate of Cultural Property|