Visit Luanda

Luanda is the capital and largest city in Angola. It is Angola's primary port, and its major industrial, cultural and urban centre. Located on Angola's northern Atlantic coast, Luanda is Angola's administrative centre, its chief seaport, and also the capital of the Luanda Province. Luanda and its metropolitan area is the most populous Portuguese-speaking capital city in the world, with over 8 million inhabitants in 2019 (a third of Angola's population).

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About Luanda

Luanda, the capital of Angola, is on the Atlantic coast. Its current renaissance is an inspiring success story. Decades of conflict, which only ended in 2002, had long held Angola back. Since the start of the 21st century there has been a massive boom in construction in Luanda, where peace and stability have attracted numerous foreign companies to invest in offices in the city. The government of Angola, getting rich off revenue from oil, diamond and other natural resources, is also investing heavily in and around Luanda, including large social housing high-rise blocks of flats to replace slums and existing dilapidated (and often bullet-ridden) tower blocks; extensive repaving; the construction of several six-lane highways leading out of the city; the reconstruction of railway lines leading out of the city; and a large new airport on the south side is under construction.

 

Geography

Luanda is divided into two parts, the Baixa de Luanda (lower Luanda, the old city) and the Cidade Alta (upper city or the new part). The Baixa de Luanda is situated next to the port, and has narrow streets and old colonial buildings. The city of Luanda is divided in six urban districts: Ingombota, Angola Quiluanje, Maianga, Rangel, Samba and Sambizanga. In Samba and Sambizanga, more high-rise developments are to be built. The capital Luanda is growing constantly - and in addition, increasingly beyond the official city limits and even provincial boundaries. Luanda is the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishop. It is also the location of most of Angola's educational institutions, including the private Catholic University of Angola and the public University of Agostinho Neto.

 

Climate

The climate is largely influence by the offshore Benguela current. The current gives the city a surprisingly low humidity despite its low latitude, which makes the warmer months considerably more bearable than similar cities in Western/Central Africa. The city receives an average of 405mm (15.9 in) of rain a year, mostly in heavy amounts in March and April and in lighter amounts from November through February. However, this is quite variable depending on the strength of the current and the coefficient of variation is 40% (there can be a sixfold difference between rain received in the driest of years and wettest of years). The temperatures are fairly stable year-round, with the mildest months being between May (29° max/23° min) and October and the warmest months being November (31° max/25° min) and April.

 

History

Luanda was founded in 1575 under the name São Paulo de Loanda by a hundred families of settlers and four hundred soldiers. Two forts were constructed in the early 17th century and the city became Portuguese Angola's administrative centre in 1627. From the late 16th century until 1836, Luanda was the port where nearly all slaves bound for Brazil left. Aside from a brief period of Dutch rule (1640–48), this period was relatively uneventful, with Luanda growing much like many other colonial cities, albeit with a strong Brazilian influence as a result of the extensive shipping trade between these Portuguese colonies. The independence of Brazil in 1822 and the end of slavery in 1836 left Luanda's future looking bleak, but the opening of the city's port to foreign ships in 1844 led to a great economic boom. By 1850, the city was arguably the most developed and one of the greatest cities in the Portuguese empire outside Portugal itself and fuelled by trade in palm and peanut oil, wax, copra, timber, ivory, cotton, coffee, and cocoa. After slavery officially ended (resisted by the Portuguese but enforced by the British) forced labour began. Numerous imported crops grew well in the surrounding area to support residents, such as maize, tobacco, and cassava. In 1889, an aqueduct opened, supplying fresh water and removing the only inhibitor to growth in the city. The city blossomed even during the Portuguese Colonial War (1961–74), which did not affect the city, and this modern city was even labelled the "Paris of Africa" in 1972.

Luanda Marginal Promenade in Luanda City, Angola

Getting In

  1. By Plane: Quatro de Fevereiro Airport; Despite the city's very low tourist numbers, it has a surprisingly large number of international connections, which largely service Angolans living abroad (such as in Brazil) and the growing number of firms servicing the oil and diamond industries as well as reconstruction (done largely by Chinese workers and Brazilian firms). A couple of carriers still operate routes based on Cold War alliances (to Havana and Moscow).
  2. By Car; The main road for tourists will be the coastal highway leading north to the DR Congo and south to Namibia. It is very scenic and in reasonably good repair. Roads are one of the top priorities in reconstruction efforts, including a handful of six-lane highways leading out of the city. Expect a mix of okay pavement on old highways and a smooth ride on new roads.
  3. By Train; Rail services in Angola have seen an dramatic improvement over the last few years. Reconstruction and modernization are carried out by Chinese firms, rehabilitating what was once one of the most extensive rail network in Africa during under colonial rule.
  4. By Bus; The National Bus Service has just re-opened but routes are not organized yet. There are some local services in Luanda and in between cities.

 

Getting Around

Johannesburg was a city built for the car and so public transport is in the development process. The Gautrain (a speed train not part of the metro system) is a good, clean and safe way to jump fast between the airport, Malboro, Midrand, Rosebank, Pretoria and Centurion. There are buses and minicabs on the streets, but there tends to be no designated stops, so buses may be flagged down on main roads such as Oxford street and Jan Smuts.

  1. By Car; The roads in Luanda are generally of okay standard, as is the case on the main routes between cities, but elsewhere road quality greatly decreases. Don't be surprised if you encounter unexpected problems during the rainy season. In Luanda main streets are paved, but streets in the slums are in disrepair, and most roads have no lines or signals.
  2. By Taxi; A popular means for locals to get around the city is by mini bus taxis (Candongueiros), easily identifiable by their pale blue and white. Although they are considered dangerous by most expats, locals use them on a daily basis. During the daytime, until around 20:00, they are a safe, convenient, and usually fast means of transport in the inner-city
  3. By Bus; The government is investing in an expansive a bus system.
Luanda International Airport in Luanda City, is Angola's main Airport
Port of Luanda Main Building in Luanda City, Angola
Attractions (What to See)
  1. Agostinho Neto Mausoleum, Upon arrival in Luanda, it is impossible to miss the towering obelisk-like structure shooting above the rest of the city. If you're curious to know what it is and why it is there, it's a mausoleum dedicated to Agostinho Neto, the first President of Angola who led Angola's struggle for independence.
  2. Fortress of São Miguel (Fortaleza de São Miguel), Calçada de S. Miguel. Built in 1576, it became the administrative center of Luanda during the early part of colonial rule and was a self-contained city for the early military garrison and an important holding place for slaves. It contains ornate wall tiles detailing the history of the city along with many relics, such as cannons and the original holding cells for slaves.
  3. National Museum of Slavery (Museu Nacional da Escravatura), Built in the area where the slaves were held prior to being taken off to the Americas. The museum building is the Capa de Casa Grande, which is where they baptized slaves prior to sending them off to the Americas. The museum is worth seeing for the chapel and the cannons on the outside. In the center of the chapel is a fascinating stone font, but with no description. There are a few period objects of real interest (such as stocks, a whip, shackles), but the framed prints on the walls are mostly copies from published works, with relatively little accompanying information. The high, windswept location is beautiful.
  4. National Museum of Natural History, Nossa Senhora da Muxima, A museum filled with thousands of species of animals, including fish, birds, crustaceons and insects. Many of the displayed animals are endangered, and some are even extinct. The museum does an impeccable job of displaying the large amount of diverse organisms that inhabit and once inhabited the country.
  5. National Museum of Anthropology (Museu Nacional de Antropologia), Av. de Portugal 61,  Dedicated to educating people about Angolan history and culture, the National Museum of Anthropology features an impressive array of traditional masks along with art, sculptures, tools, weaponry, jewellery, clothing and musical instruments.
  6. São Pedro da Barra Fortress (Fortaleza de São Pedro da Barra). A fortress that served a variety of purposes throughout its history. It was constructed in the 17th century to protect the area from invaders. When the slave trade began, it was then used as a keep for the slaves until they were ready to send them away. Throughout Angola's struggle for independence against Portugal from 1961-1975, the fort housed nationalists who were arrested and then forced into labor camps.
  7. Igreja Nossa Senhora do Pópulo (Igreja da Sé). Considered to be the first Anglican Church, it is one of Luanda's most treasured cultural and historical sites. The structure dates back to 1482. Aside from its religious significance, the unique Baroque architecture and the lavish interior attract many visitors
Cathedral Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios Building in Luanda City, Angola
Luanda Banco Nacional de Angola Building in Luanda City, Angola
Miradouro da Lua in Samba District, Luanda City, Angola
Sao Miguel Fortress Museu Nacional de Historia Militar in Luanda City, Angola
Where to Stay (Accommodation)

Budget:

  • The Alvalade Hotel
  • The Palm Beach Hotel.
  • Inn Luanda (Inn Luanda Boutique Hotel Type), Rua Francisco Sá de Miranda, Boutique hotel located in residential area close to center. Very clean and good air-con with free WiFi. Breakfast was included and they can prepare lunch and dinner.
  • The Tropico Hotel
  • Hotel Globo, Rua Rainha Ginga 100. One of the few low cost hotels in Luanda, an ageing three-story building from the days of modernist architecture and neon signage

 

Splurge;

  • Hotel Presidente, Largo 17 de Setembro nº4, A prestigous four star hotel in the city center.
  • Rouxinol Luxury Guesthouse (Hotel Rouxinol), Beco de Moçambique nº 16, Bairro Cruzeiro, Near the Embassies in Miramar and the centre of town.
Memorial Antonio Agostinho Neto in Luanda City, Angola

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