Post Office Building
Another of the beautiful restored facades in the lower city, the portion to the right of this building houses the post office, while the portion to the far left is a cell phone shop that sells the latest in camera phones and other gagets. It is rare to see this building without hoardes of vehicles and pedestrians, and that is why I was out early on a Sunday morning with my camera - while driving my car, by the way. Usually, this street is packed with stop and go Luanda traffic, with vehicles inching and lurching to gain a space advantage over the other vehicles, while women carrying fruit in baskets on their heads compete to hawk their wares.
Between the red tiled roofs, the swaying palms, and the seascapes, sightseeing is one of the most worthwhile activities in Luanda. There is just not that much to do here. This is the view from the back of the Hotel Tivoli, which is the poorer neighbor to the upscale Tropico Hotel on the Rua da Missão. In this photo, you can see the Fortaleza, the Central Bank, the Ilha and the Bay. This is the same view, by the way as the view with the fireworks in this series of "Things to Do"
US Embassy - Not the US Consulate
A well-fortified fortress, the US Embassy was constructed at a very prominent location on the top of a hill overlooking the lower city. The Embassy took about 8 years to build, but I hear that it is finally just about finished. With the latest of electronic gagetry and hi-tech communications equipment, the Embassy is apparenty one of the most technologically advanced US Embassy complexes in the world. It cuts a very imposing profile on the skyline of Luanda, as it is one of the mosts recognizable buildings in the city, and at the top of the Serpentine Road, it's location is very high profile. Very few visitors to Luanda will have reason to visit, as all normal consular activities, such as visas, registration, etc. are handled at the US Consulate in an entirely different building known as the "Casa Inglesa".
Port of Luanda, Sonangol Tanks, and Mosseque
There is just not that much to do in Luanda, but I found it interesting to see the contrasts, as in this photo of the port of Luanda from the outskirts of the upscale neighborhood of Miramar. Miramar is the neighborhood of the foreign consulates, the wealthy politicians, and the homes provided to expatriates by the multi-national foreign oil companies. Just below the upscale bairro (in this photo), you can see the Mosseque (or slum) in the foreground, and the busy Port of Luanda, an extremely busy container receiving port, along with a Sonangol products tank farm and the bay and Ilha do Cabo in the background.
The most attractive and most identifyable landmark in downtown Luanda is t he Central Bank Building. Built in a colonial style, with clay roof tiles and an impressive facade, the lobby is well worth visiting, as the walls are of some of the most beautiful azulejos around. These hand-painted blue and white tiles form beautiful historical scenes, and are certainly a must-see in downtown Luanda.
Restored Block of Buildings Downtown
The lower city has numerous buildings that have seen refurbishment and fresh paint. This particular block is in the heart of the central shopping area, and the building in the center is one of the best stocked kitchen, bath, fabric, and toy stores in the city. This is the facade that is painted the dark magenta on bottom and the lighter pink on top. The displays cases are antiques themselves. Worth a look, but be sure to go when they are open. All of the stores close from noon until 14:00, and they close sharply at 18:00. Most places are open from 9:00 until 12:00 on Sunday.
Fireworks over the Fortaleza São Miguel
I happened to be in Luanda for the New Years Eve Celebration, which was highlighted by a private party at the Fortaleza and a fireworks extravaganza that could be seen from all points in the lower city. The fireworks were actually quite impressive and continued for about one half an hour. Copius quantities of alcohol were consumed at the party at the fort. Events like these that attract crowds are very popular in Angola. I prefer to stay away from the fray though, as the crowds can be a little overwhelming.
Hey, these structures are scattered throughout Luanda, but please, do not think that this is not valuable property waiting to be turned into a new condo development. The locals recognize the value of the historic builidings, and tearing down the old facades is prohibited. There are numerous barely standing structures awaiting refurbishment. This refurbishment is not a dream, but a reality. There are numerous examples of buildings that have been restored in Luanda, many of them having been done remarkably well. Sometimes, the only part of the original builidig remaining after the re-construction is the facade itself, as every other part of the building, including the foundation is completely re-built to it's original colonial appearance (or better).
This one too will have it's turn.
Church-Igreja Nossa Senhora dos Remedios da Praia
Built between 1665 – 1679 by the merchants in the west area of Luanda. It has two (2) pre-fabricated domes in steel and colored glass on towers on the main façade. The church was recently restored by Soares da Costa, funded by Elf (Total). It is mostly frequented by the white-collar population of Luanda.
- Historical Travel
Kissama National Park
Kissama is a huge game reserve south of Luanda. The parks wildlife was completely wiped out during the war but a program called Noahs Ark has been set up to reintroduce elephants and other animals to Angola. There is accomodation for visitors which is excellent and the scenery is also spectaular. The rangers were very friendly and informative. We went out on a couple of safari drives in a unimog and were even taken on a trek through the bush to find elephants. Tickets for the park can be bought from the forum hotel in Luanda.
- National/State Park
Elephants arrive in Angola
The relocations of September 2000 form part of a project of the Kissama Foundation named “Operation Noah’s Ark”. The project involves the relocation of elephant, rhino, various antelope species and eventually predators to the Quiçama National Park. This massive relocation will span over the next four years and animals will be transported to the park by air as well as by sea. The Kissama Foundation has been mandated by the Angolan government to rehabilitate the country’s national parks, with the Quiçama National Park receiving first priority.
The Angolan National Bank
This building really is a landmark and you can't really miss it when visiting Luanda. Right at the centre of the waterfront 'Marginal' this amazing building dominates the city centre. Not quite what I was expecting to see when I first came to Angola! Just one of many beautiful colonial buildings in Luanda...
This imposing monument towers above the local area. It is not far from the Presidential Palace and can be seen from quite a distance. On one side is the star of the MPLA and on the other the symbol from the centre of the Angolan flag. I have no idea what the monument is for and it has not yet been completed but you can't really travel to Luanda and not see it.
Museu escravidao (Slavery Museum)
This quaint little building on the coast of Angola has a rather more sinister side. This was the last part of Africa that thousands of people saw before being sold as slaves and shipped to the Americas.
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
A 50km strip of land that stretches down the coast of Angola from Luanda. The strip shelters the angolan coast from the Atlantic and protects sand banks, clear blue water and even flamingos on the salt pans. With so much space it is very easy to find yourself on a piece of deserted white sand beach relaxing away from the city.
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