The city on foot
One of Maputo’s treasures is the indomitable Jane Flood, whose enthusiastic walking tours of the city can be discovered on her Facebook page, Maputo a Pé. In particular, the tours explore the city’s unique architectural heritage. These are some of our faves:
While Europe was recovering from Word War 2, Mozambique and Angola had an influx of funds ill-gotten from Portugal´s neutral position. Many who sought to escape the conservative regime in Portugal came to Maputo to discover the joys of the Paris of Africa.
So João Tinoco and José Forjaz and home-grown Pancho Guedes enjoyed the freedom to shape the city, originally under Mesquita, the city engineer. At first, the weathered concrete and dated forms of tropical modern buildings make little impression on a visitor. Yet, as the eye discovers the historical importance of this vernacular, seemingly ugly, multistorey buildings become ever more beautiful.
What’s curious is that this style of architecture is most prominent in Brazil’s metropoles and in parts of Joburg like Hillbrow. Elements to look out for include the brise soleil with dramatic cantilever effects. Other equally captivating examples include the Moz Bank near Café Continental, Predio Abreu, Santos e Rocha facing the station and Polana Mar, all a stone’s throw away from the famous Polana Hotel.
This walk gives you a crash course in the best of Mozambican art, access to artists’ studios like Gonçalo Mabunda – represented by Tilandia Gallery, which has an extensive selection of Malangatana Ngwenyas and other contemporary artists’ pieces such as Victor Sousa and Butcheca. Catch up with the current exhibitions. The murals of Naguib and other decorations on house fronts provide art lovers with the rare opportunity to see Makonde wood carvers at work.
By special arrangement, you can find yourself surrounded by the expressive pieces of younger, upcoming artists at the Fabo Gallery at Eduardo Mondlane University. For a reasonable fee, travellers and locals alike can visit sculptor Pekiwa.
The sculpture garden is a glimpse of magic, and visitors can have a delicious lunch while enjoying the grace and beauty of salt flats and flamingos.
MODERNISM A Pancho Guedes building seen during an architecture tour