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Maputo Bike Tour allows you to explore the capital at your own pace and style with a Mussiro Bike. The tour is guided by an an experient guide and ciclist.
Maputo is fairly easy to cycle. We provide a helmet and bicycle padlock. It’s a safe city and very straight forward, difficult to get lost 🙂
Its a 4 hours tour starting and finishing points are at our office at Sommerschield. A great place to start and finish, low traffic and a lot of highlights around us.
Contact us for more information or book now.
Between 7:00 to 19:00 (Everyday)
We provide you with a city map and a helmet, and, of course, a Mussiro Bike 🙂.
You can take the bike for 4 hours. You will be given a brief and a few options of routes and highlights to visit on a Maputo Bike Tour.
Maputo Bike Tour | Guided
You will go out with your own bike but following a Mussiro guide on another bike. It’s easier to explore the city and you will have more juice to your experience in every highlight stop. However, the probability of getting lost or having a bit of extra adventure reduces considerably. If you want to play safe choose this option 🙂.
You will go out with your own bike but following a Mussiro guide on another bike. It’s easier to explore the city and you will have more juice to your experience in every highlight stop. You will visit the Cathedral, the French Cultural Center, Independence Square, Town Hall, Samora Machel’s statue, Iron House, Train Station, Central Market, FEIMA, etc.
– Art and History
Maputo is the Capital city of Mozambique, used to be known as Lourenço Marques in the past – we will explain to you during the tour the reason why the name changed after independence. Notice that not only the name of the city but also avenues changed after independence. Just to see how interesting it is, our office is close to the American Cultural Center located at the intersection between Kim Il Sung and Mao Tse Tung Avenues.
Maputo downtown is one of the most visited places in the capital where you can easily get in contact with the history of Mozambique and you can also get a feeling of mixing between the past and the present. Here are some of the places you can add to your list to visit while in downtown:
We start the tour going down the hill towards the first stop (the Fortress), using the Marginal Avenue. On our way to the Fortress, we can see a really nice mural by Naguib (popular artist) in homage to Samora Machel (first president after independence). He worked with a group of young artists to complete the huge mural on tiles and lots of colors. In front of this enormous mural, it is still possible to see remaining sticks of what was once a fence to protect bathers against shark attacks. Without that fence, no one would be able to swim in there.
As we keep cycling, a huge bridge shines over us – it is today the longest suspension bridge in Africa –, replacing the previous one in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The four-lane suspension bridge is 3041 meters long and crosses the bay at a height of 60 meters and is called Maputo-Katembe bridge, linking the city (Maputo) to the other side of the bay (Katembe). This immense project was largely funded by a Chinese bank and is the biggest investment in Mozambique after independence.
Katembe (literally, the place of the Tembe) is the ancestral home of the powerful lineage of Chief Maputo. According to oral history, the Tembe originally came from a place close to Great Zimbabwe and migrated down along the Eastern seaboard through Macaneta, finally settling in Delagoa Bay (present-day Maputo) around the 17th century. While the Tembe people established themselves here, some groups chose to move further South towards Santa Lucia in South Africa and over the Lebombo mountain range, into Swaziland. Today the Swazi royal lineage still traces its ancestry to Catembe. The historical ties between Southern Mozambique, South Africa (Maputaland) and Swaziland are also evident from shared cultural traditions –such as the annual brewing of canhu (marula beer) in January/February, which no one is allowed to consume before it has been ritually presented to the King/lineage elders. This custom is observed in Katembe, Maputaland and Swaziland. The canhu symbolizes the unity of the group, and may not be sold, but must be brewed at home and shared with family, friends and neighbours.
Today, the urban district of Katembe is home to approximately 25 000 residents, of who many are reliant on subsistence farming, traditional fishery and formal employment in Maputo. However, Katembe is slated to become one of Mozambique´s fastest-growing areas with the construction of the bridge.
By this time, you would have already noticed that we drive on the left here in Mozambique. It’s a bit strange but yes, we do drive on the left side of the streets. That was inherited from the British in South Africa. Mozambique is also part of the commonwealth although English is not one of our 30+ languages.
Fort (first stop) – Nossa Senhora da Conceição or Fortaleza (as it is known) was originally built of wood in 1787. In 1811 the wall towards the sea was erected in stone. A plan of 1851 shows that the whole fortress was now made of stone. In its present from, it is a renovation and part reconstruction following a 1945 proposal of Joaquim Areal Silva of the Direcção de Monumentos Nacionais. The complete work was inaugurated only in 1956. The two battlements of the landside and the connecting wall are mostly original. Inside there are many remains from fortresses around the country (including the dismantled fort of Sofala), cannon and other historic objects. There is a coffin carved by Paulo Come containing the remains of Ngungunhana, King of Gaza who died in 1906 and the statue of Victor Mouzinho de Albuquerque who had ironically died even earlier in 1902 by his own hand. His statue was originally erected in the 1940s in front of the Municipal Council (where we see the statue of Samora Machel today). Leopoldo Simões e Almeida was the sculptor. Also, there is a statue of António Enes by Teixeira Lopes, which was originally on the square in front of the fort.
Bagamoyo street – New Orleans in Maputo, that is the feeling most people who have been to New Orleans have when they walk through this street. Called Araujo street before independence, the street started as a residencies street, but because of its location – close to the harbor –, it started to become a bit busier with lots of hotels, bars, most of them run down nowadays. It is a treasure of French colonial architecture with buildings with their iron pillars and decks during the day and the street that doesn’t sleep during the night. Bagamoyo is a red light district and the street where Leonardo DiCaprio had some set of scenes for the movie Blood Diamond.
Train station – It is sometimes said to be the most beautiful in Southern Africa. The Maputo central station is on an America magazine list of the most beautiful train stations worldwide as the 3rd most beautiful. We are not going to tell you which ones make the Top Ten list and will keep it as a surprise for when we go to the train station and see the photo exposition of the list.
The train station was built in 1908-1910 and designed by Alfredo Augusto Lisboa de Lima, Mário Veiga and José Cristian da Paula Ferreira da Costa (and not Gustave Eiffel as some people believe), and constructed by the local builders Buccellato & Brother. Pietro Buccellato did all the work on stucco; the cupola was pre-fabricated in South Africa. Two old steam locomotives can be seen displayed when you enter. One of them, the Gaza or No.1 used to travel on the narrow-gauge railroad between Xai-Xai and Manjacaze and the branch line beyond, the other was the first model to run between Maputo and Pretoria. There are not many passenger trains running anymore and they essentially serve poorer suburbs in South Africa and Marracuene. Near the end of the rails on the left in the former waiting room is an active gallery run by the cultural organization Kulungwana. Before the gallery, you can also stop for a drink or lunch in Xitimela (train) restaurant.
The train station is quite popular. Some of the scenes for the movie Blood Diamond by Leonardo DiCaprio were shot here.
Central Market – The best market in Maputo, fresh and clean, was built in 1901 by David Carvalho with iron elements imported from Belgium.
Come here if you want to get ingredients for a very Mozambican dish. You can buy here Cassava leaves to prepare the famous Matapa with prawns and even get tips from the ladies on how to make it. Mozambique offers the most delicious dishes distilled from its fascinating and rich history. Arabic, Portuguese, Chinese, British and Indian influences have all been integrated using indigenous ingredients and cooking methods. The Portuguese influence has greatly impacted the cuisine of Mozambique, such as Mandioca (a starchy root of Brazilian origin), cashew nuts (also from Brazil) and bread.
The use of spices and seasonings such as onions, garlic, sweet peppers, bay leaves, lemons, fresh coriander, paprika, cinnamon and of course “piripiri” chill peppers, with wine (also introduced by the Portuguese).
Over time, the culinary skills of the local chefs and women have developed into an unique and delicious array of stews and curries. But it is often simplicity that offers the most delicious experience. Seafood is fresh and abundant and so grilled prawns, lobsters, calamari and a variety of tropical fish and clams are with just salt, a squeeze of lemon, garlic and perhaps a dash of piripiri (hot chili sauce). Eating local traditional dishes, that differ slightly with the location in the country, such as Matapa, will be a fulfilling experience to any visitor – if you get Matapa or something else in the market, we are sure the ladies will even help you, giving you tips on how to prepare it. We also stop to try some local fruits: massala, ata, coração de boi, or the one that calls your attention.
Independence Square (town hall, cathedral, statue).
a) Big white cathedral (starting point): officially called Nossa Senhora da Conceição the cathedral (as it is mostly known) or demon’s cathedral was built in the 1930’s-1940’s by Marcial Simões Freitas e Costa, who was a deputy director of the railways at the time and worked free of charge. The construction was a major feat for the catholic church of the time, which was still reeling under the effects of the revolution of 1910 in Portugal and had a very weak presence in Mozambique.
This was one of the places in the city were hundreds of people had the opportunity to see Pope Francisco during his visit to Mozambique (3rd to 6th September 2019). The second but not least important visit we have had of a Pope. 🙂
Inside there is art work by Francisco Franco (statue of the sacred Heart of Christ, the baptismal figures, the bronze doors), Simões Freitas (the marble statues), and Antonio Lino (marble altars). The stained glass windows were produced in the Netherlands during the war. Today we can see different patterns on the stained glasses as result of an incident that happened in 2007 (explosion of a bunker) and caused a lot of destruction and deaths in Maputo.
Nossa Senhora da Conceição is a nice example of the lots of Art Deco buildings we have in Maputo. Some people even say that if we join all the Art Deco buildings we have in Maputo, this could maybe be a little Miami.
b) Town hall: was designed and built in the 1940s by architects Carlos César dos Santos, Franz Keindl and Arnaldo Pacheco Pereira Leite. In front of it, in the Lisbon–style pavement used to be inscribed the words “Aqui é Portugal” -this is Portugal-, the words of president Américo Tomás when he visited Mozambique in 1964. Instead of the present-day statue of Samora Machel, there used to be an equestrian statue of Mousinho de Albuquerque (now in the fort). The building together with the cathedral used to be the pride of Portuguese Mozambique. Inside we have nice models of the old Lourenço Marques (present-day Maputo) and a nice hall to see.
c) Statue of the first president: The Samora Machel Statue is a bronze sculpture located in the center of Praça da Independência. The statue depicts Samora Machel (1933-1986), military, revolutionary, and the first President of Mozambique. The statue was designed and constructed in Pyongyang, North Korea by the Mansudae Overseas Projects, an arm of the Mansudae Art Studio. It stands 9 meters and weighs 4.8 tons. The statue sits on a marble slab 2.7 meters high at the head of Samora Machel Avenue and is illuminated at night. The statue has been criticized for bearing little resemblance to Samora. The Samora Machel Statue sits in front of Maputo City Hall on the spot formerly occupied by a statue of Mouzinho de Albuquerque, General of Portuguese Mozambique from 1896 to 1897.
The statue was inaugurated on October 19, 2011, the 25th anniversary of Machel’s death in an aircraft crash on the convergence of the borders of Mozambique, Swaziland, and South Africa. Armando Guebuza, the President of Mozambique at that time, led the construction of the statue and its inauguration ceremony, which was attended by numerous foreign dignitaries.
Iron house – designed by Gustave Eiffel, the building was brought pre-fabricated from Belgium in 1892 and assembled outside what was the town by those days. He liked neither the building (let’s imagine why – an iron house in a hot country like Mozambique + no air conditioners) nor the isolated site. So the court of justice was supposed to move in but did not want to. It ended up as a girl school of the sisters Hospitallers to be closed when religious orders were removed from public schools after the revolution of 1910 and were later as offices. In 1972 it was moved to the present site to house a geographical museum, with displays also showing how an office would have looked at the time of the Portuguese geographical expeditions. Today it houses the cultural heritage authority of Mozambique.
Tunduro gardens – One of the most beautiful and green spaces in Maputo. If you do the Maputo Bike Tour on Saturday you will find it even more interesting as you will see a lot of wedding celebrations going on with a lot of dancing, singing, and happiness. But no matter the day you do the Maputo Bike Tour, the big fruit bats will be there for you (a bit of safari in the city).
Before independence, the garden was called Vasco da Gama, in homage to the Portuguese explorer but right after independence the name changed, just like the name of the city, avenues, etc. (we will explain to you during the Maputo Bike tour the reason why we had all these changes).
The local horticulture and floriculture society had already occupied the lower part of the terrain since 1885. The upper part was originally the garden of the villa Joia. Thomas honey joined the two together in 1907 and designed them the way they are now. Thomas honey had previously designed gardens to the sultan of Turkey and the king of Greece. The entrance arch in neo-Manueline style was put up in 1924 on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Vasco da Gama’s death.
Inside the gardens, it is also possible to see a small cast iron “wallace” water fountain with four caryatides supporting a dome made by Fonderies d’Art du Val d’Osne in 1872. Many of these still exist in Paris and are named after the benefactor, Sir Richard Wallace, who erected them in order to provide safe drinking water. How did it come to Maputo? On theory, it was brought here as a gift by French Engineer Eugène François Tissot, who had acquired the Lourenço Marques drinking water concession in1985. Tissot incidentally met a dramatic death –he first killed his wife and daughter and them himself with a pistol.
Natural history museum – located in the Praça Travessia do Zambeze, the museum used to be called Museu Álvaro de Castro and was built in 1931-1933 in neo–Manueline style (a kind of Portuguese gothic style) by the municipal engineer António Ribeiro de Mendonça. The original idea had been to build a school. Worth mentioning are the collection of elephant fetuses aged 1 month to 20 months and realistic wildlife scenes (e.g. lioness tearing a zebra carcass), both are to be found in the big room downstairs. Taxidermist Peão Lopes made them, and nowadays they seem a bit dusty and not the state of the art. The elephant fetuses are said to be result of land clearance south of Maputo in the early 20th century during which around 2000 elephants were killed. There are also two rooms of traditional African art. Around the building, there are the annexes, built by architect João José Tinoco, in 1965.
They are decorated with two mural paintings by Malangatana, one was painted in 1977/79 in two phases and depicts the fight of man in nature; the other was painted in 1989. In the workshop annex (onto which the first mural is painted) is the atelier of famous Makonde pottery artist Reinata Sadimba who works here weekdays. It is one of the most exciting and authentic experiences in Maputo to see her at work. The prime minister of the time Pascoal Mocumbi and many others invited her to come to Maputo and work in the Museum.
Núcleo de Arte – Artists association, school for many Mozambican artists. There is a really nice gallery and ateliers of the artists working there. The artists are always happy to let people see them working on their paintings and sculptures. Eugenio Mucavele, always calm and concentrated, is one of the most if not the most experienced artist we always meet when we go to Núcleo.
Villa Algarve – Built-in 1934 by architect Augusto da Silva Pinto and engineer Alfredo F. Soares in the “português suave” style (smooth Portuguese style) for Joé dos Santos Rutino who was a photographer and had a stationery shop but more lucratively also held the lottery concession. He came from the Algarve region in Portugal. The elaborate hand-painted tiles (azulejos) were produced by the Aleluia company. In 1952 the Portuguese secret police PIDE took over the building. In the basement was the interrogation chamber called Kula, which in Shangaan means, “where one of us is eaten up”. Franciso Langa or “Chico Feio” was the main torturer here. Langa suffered a violent death after independence in 1975 –he was cut to pieces in his house.
Greek church – Architect Evan Lembros built it in the 1950s. Inside it is covered with frescoes by Helen Lieros from Zimbabwe, who was invited to do so by cathedral custodian and Greek Honorary Council George Tsihlakis in 1995. They were painted over a span of 8 years – free of charge.
Wedding Palace – The marriage palace was built in 1931-1934 by Agapus Nicolau and Nicolas Kassimatis as the “ateneu Grego”, the community center of the Greek colony. It was open to all, one of the favorite events being its well-known dance matinees. Inside it is possible to see how civil marriages are performed with style and singing. There are a few high-quality artworks, a huge painting by Malangatana of 1979/80, ”the long passage towards marriage”, a carved pillar by Alberto Chissano and in the basement two painted concrete reliefs.
The dragon – Was built by Pancho Guedes in 1951. There is a mosaic of a dragon in the space underneath the apartments. It also pebbled the outer wall.
Feima – handicraft market with nice restaurants. This is the ideal place to buy souvenirs to take back home. From fridge magnets to capulanas.
Lemon squeezer – the lemon squeezer or Polana Church was built in 1962 by Nuno Craveiro Lopes (son of the former Portuguese president). There is a miniature replica in the garden on the corner. It is also impressive inside. Sociedad Mauméjean Hermanos in Madrid produced the stained glass.it is commonly called lemon squeezer or inverted flower because of its shape.
• Weekends are better for the bike tour as the city is calmer and there is almost no traffic.