Luanda Travel Guide
Bay of Luanda © Paulo Cesar Santos
Angola's capital Luanda is a lively, gritty city where
construction cranes and luxury cars abound, while the shanty towns
at the city's periphery grow larger every week. It is the country's
main seaport, its administrative and residential centre, and it is
home to a surprisingly well connected airport, offering direct
flights to most major international cities. Luanda attracts few
tourists, however, and is mostly visited by businessmen and expat
workers who shuttle between their project sites and five star
hotels. This is a pity, as it is certainly not short of exciting
Founded by Portuguese colonists in 1575, Luanda became an important seaport and export base for both minerals and foodstuffs, and (more infamously) slaves who were sent in their hundreds of thousands to the Portuguese colonies in Brazil. Many of these slaves spent their last night in the impressive de Fortaleza de São Miguel, dating from 1576. This structure was the colonial heart of the old city, a well defended citadel that was home to the Portuguese garrison and its merchants. The nearby National Museum of Slavery houses artefacts and images from this terrible time. There are also beautiful, ancient churches and interesting museums to spend time in; a welcomed respite from encouters with the city's grim history of slavery.
Luanda also has a vast array of good restaurants and cafés on offer, and sun-worshippers should visit the best beach in town, Mussulo, which can be accessed by boat from the main harbour. Also, don't miss a shopping trip to Benfica market where everything from Tupperware to good quality African crafts is sold in a vibrant, cacophonic and richly scented environment that only an African city can provide.
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