When we were travelling across Mozambique, we travelled through Maputo, Tofo, Bilene and finally made it to Ilha de Moçambique in Nampula.
This tiny 1 square kilometre island with a population of around 15,000 – 16,000 people was once the capital of Mozambique and a major trade hub for the Portuguese. Before Maputo became the capital of the country, Ilha de Moçambique remained the capital of Mozambique for nearly four centuries.
On this beautiful island, there is an old fort, the Fort of São Sebastião, which was built by the Portuguese in the 15th century. If you visit Mozambique, you must visit this colossal fort and explore its fascinating history. Did you know that the Fort of São Sebastião is the oldest intact fort in sub-Saharan Africa? After the beginning of its construction, it took over 50 years to complete.
Vasco Da Gama visited the island in 1498 on his way to India. After his visit, the Portuguese built the fort to protect their trade routes from Asia to Europe. Back in the day, the Portuguese dominated the trade of spices and many other items from India and the Far East. There is also a grand statue of Vasco Da Gama in front of the Portuguese governor’s residence which is now a museum.
If you plan to visit Fort of São Sebastião, make sure you do a little research, carry a book or hire a local guide who can give you proper information as there is little to no information available at the sight. You can go up the stairs and explore the ancient rooms from the colonial era. It truly feels like you have travelled back in time and are walking along the high walls of an iconic Portuguese fort. Besides the incredible history, the Fort of São Sebastião also offers breath-taking views of the bay.
If you are an art and architecture lover like us, you are certainly in for a treat. There is an old Christian church, Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte, right next to the fort which is considered the oldest church in the Southern Hemisphere.