Must-Visit Historical Places In Mauritius

Art & Culture Historical & Heritage

Historical Places In Mauritius

Not many people would be aware of the historical places in Mauritius as the island group is more famous for its beaches and natural forests that make it a perfect honeymoon spot. However, considering its infamous slavery period and colonial extravaganza as well as the contribution of some of the famous navigators and writers, the country has several historical sites in the capital city of Port Louis like the Natural History Museum, Aapravasi Ghat, Place d’Armes and Municipal Theatre.

Here is the list of 19 Must-Visit Historical Places In Mauritius

1. Maison Eureka

Flanked by the Eureka garden, the colonial Eureka House or Maison Eureka stands on the Moka riverbanks as a classy Creole residence dated back to the 1830's. Boasting of 109 windows and doors, it is famous not only as one of the largest mansions in Mauritius but also for its extensive collection related to colonial art, music, Indian and Chinese houseware and maps.

2. Arsenal Bay (Baie De l’Arsenal)

Located in Balaclava, the remnants of the French Arsenal dated back to 1774 is the main attraction here. Within the Maritim Resort & Spa perimeters, the lime kiln and flour mill can be seen easily if you are a guest of the hotel and those who are not staying, can get permission from the hotel security guard. Baie aux Tortues and Arsenal Marine Bay National Park can be accessed here.

3. Mauritius Photography Museum

A paradise for professional, enthusiast and general photographers out there, the Mauritius Photography Museum was founded by photographer Tristan Breville in 1960 and it features antique photographs and photography equipment used during 1800-1900’s. Take a guided tour lasting about an hour where the knowledgeable founders’ successors and associates will tell you about the history behind objects like 1773’s press machine, stereoscopic film from 1913 etc.

4. Route Du Thé

Colloquially known as the tea route, Route Du Thé comprises of the Domaine des Aubineaux, Domaine de Bois Chéri and Domaine de Saint Aubin. Start with the museum featuring deep-rooted history of tea industry in the bourgeois house and follow the Bois Cheri Tea Factory to know about tea making or enjoying tea tasting. The colonial house of Saint Aubin offers Mauritian meal and a gateway to Vanilla and Anthurium greenhouses.

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5. L’Aventure du Sucre

Also known as The Sugar Museum and Factory, a history of more than 250 years regarding sugarcane industry and tasting or rum and sugar await you at this attraction. The tour lasts for about 1.5 hours, will take you to the factory where the decade-old machinery are featured. Visit the restored sugar factory to check out the films about Mauritian sugarcane cultivation.

6. Martello Tower

Martellos or Martello Tower is a group of five British defensive towers dating back to the 19th century when the French Revolutionary War had set in. Mostly coastal towers, standing around 40 feet, the towers made of sturdy masonry resisted cannon fire and the flat round roof helped 360-degree movement of heavy artillery piece. Visit La Preneuse tower museum to know about the architectures in detail.

7. Blue Penny Museum

The colonial era of Mauritius to its development over the years are depicted through the exhibits of Blue Penny Museum namely The Age Of Discovery, The Island Builders, Port Louis –a leading city, Engraved Memory, The Postal Adventure and Paul & Virginie. Unused orange-red one penny stamps and indigo-blue two pence stamps are among the most prized items.

8. Matthew Flinders Monument

Although built in 2003 on 6th November, the monument built on the western shore of the Baie du Cap pays homage to Matthew Flinders, a renowned English cartographer and navigator’s arrival to the island. The monument made of bronze depicts the sitting figure of the navigator during his detention period in a stonewalled room. Designed by Madame Szuszanna, the monument also features a chest, flute, compass and his cat Trim.

9. Albion Lighthouse

Dated back to 1910, the 30m tall Albion Lighthouse in Pointe aux Caves is the only operational Mauritian lighthouse and it has been featured in a number of movies and shows. Surrounded by cliffs, caves filled with bats and birds and lush greenery, the lighthouse blinks twice every ten seconds and to visit here you need authorization letter from Ports Authority.

10. Citadel Fort

Fort Adelaide or Citadel Fort is a British military installation from 19th century overlooking the harbor and Port Louis. Now converted as National Monument, the fort atop Petite Montague hill is constructed in Moorish style with arches and huge rectangular blocks. The Indian Ocean and the waterfront surround the area along with the old barracks now act as souvenir boutiques.

11. Aapravasi Ghat

This UNESCO World Heritage Site, also known as the Immigrant Depot bears the history of contracted laborer exchange from India. Built during 1849 till 1923, the place has imported around half million laborers to send them to the plantations under British authorization where they toiled rigorously. Check out the remnants of the hospital with seven rooms, guard’s room, surgery room, kitchen and immigration shed.

12. Le Morne Brabant

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Le Morne Brabant at an altitude of 1824 feet covering more than 30 acres of steep slopes, overhangs and caves is the extreme southwestern point. Signifying freedom and hope, the mountain was the safe abode to many runaway slaves who lived here in small communities until they misinterpreted the incoming of a police force and committed suicide by jumping into the ocean.

13. Robert Edward Hart Memorial Museum

The coral cottage of Robert Edward hart named La Nef was opened as the memorial museum in 1967 to exhibit copies and original letters, speeches, plays and poetry of the poet along with the furniture, fiddle, Britannic toiletry and spectacles. Within the four rooms and the reception area, you will find informative panels, photographs, writing essentials, personal library, paintings and more.

14. Chateau de Labourdonnais

Dated back to 1856, this restored Victorian Mansion was owned for more than 150 years by Wiehe family. Nestled in the fertile orchard and endemic plantation, the neo-classical Italian mansion with colonnaded gallery is made of teak wood. The rooms with vintage silverware and dinnerware give an idea of the lifestyle back then. Taste some wine and gourmet food at the Rhumerie des Mascareignes.

15. Paul And Virginie Monument

Standing in the foreground of bamboo groves on a stone base, the celebrated bronze statue of Paul and Virginia depicts the folklore written by Jacque-Henri Bernadin de Saint-Pierre. In front of the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, the statue was inaugurated in 2005 and it speaks about the story of slave-born Paul who swam to his bourgeois beloved Virginie who succumbed to St Geran shipwreck after she decided not to remove her clothes.

16. Dutch First Landing Monument

Although a lesser-known attraction, the monument bears the history of the first human arrival in Mauritius. On 20th September in 1598 the Dutch people first came to Grand Port in the same spot as the story goes, the ships contained trading products to be delivered to some other place in Indonesia but out of luck, they stumbled across the Mauritian island.

17. Champ de Mars Racecourse

The 2nd oldest in Mauritius, this thoroughbred racetrack from 1812 was military training area used by French troops and was changed into racetrack to maintain unity with the English settlers.  Mostly organized during weekends, the races can be enjoyed from La Plaine, tiered seating areas on the side of the tracks or on the top of the building, near the closing line and from the private lodges.

18. Mahebourg Historical Naval Museum

The Natural History Museum or Naval Museum was the treatment house for the injured English and French commanders in 1810 followed by the Vieux Grand Port Battle. Maps of Mauritius and regions in Indian Ocean, colonial era paintings, significant Mauritian ship models, archive photographs are on display along with rare skeleton of extinct species like the dodo and Rodrigues solitaire, engraving on an extinct tortoise shell, Spanish coins etc.

19. Mauritius Postal Museum

The Historic Monument was built during 1868 and was inaugurated in 1995 to keep record the significant events in Mauritian postal service since 1772. In the four rooms, you will find different anecdotes regarding communication system in the old days, the exhibition area that changes the exhibits and the philatelic gallery. Red and blue stamps, posters, postal equipment and uniform, stamp machines, letter boxes and more are on display.

Apart from these, there are also a few other lesser known sites in Port Louis like the Government House, Lenin Statue Bust and Old Mill Chimney in Union Park and Frederik Hendrik Museum in Grand Port. Most of the sites excluding the museums incur entry fee and you should also check out the timings before visiting.

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