Praça da Independência

Maputo’s heart is the Praça da Independência, or Independence Square, sitting amid a surprising blend of architectural styles and straddling the city’s uptown and its historic downtown area called Baixa. Renamed in 1975 after Mozambique won its independence from the Portuguese, the square is dominated by a large statue of the country’s first president, Samora Machel, who died in a mysterious plane crash. On the north side of the square, look for the neoclassical city hall. To its east, the Art Deco Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, which resembles a wedding cake and was consecrated in 1944, is impossible to miss. Nearby, the French-Mozambican Cultural Center hosts everything from jazz performances to art exhibitions, and the Tunduru Botanical Gardens, a few blocks away, are worth visiting for some shade from the African sun.

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