This Portuguese fortress was built in 1576 by Angola’s first Captain-Governor Paulo Dias de Novais. It was once the administrative centre of the country and, unfortunately, became a holding place for slaves being sent to Brazil.
One of the things that is most beautiful about the fortress are the ornate wall tiles that tell the story of Angola’s history. It also displays plenty of other ancient relics.
In 1996 the Saint Michael Fortress became a UNESCO World Heritage site. Since then, it has become one of the most popular places to visit in the city.
The National Museum of Slavery (Museu Nacional da Escravatura) was founded in 1977. It is a small white building that sits along the city’s coastline.
Luanda’s history in the slave industry is not a pretty one, but those who want to learn more about it should definitely head to this museum. It displays photos and lithographs hanging on the walls telling the story.
Angola was one of the largest slave-traders along the west coast of Africa. The site where the museum sits is where slaves were baptised before being put on ships heading to the USA.
Avenida 4 de Fevereiro, which is also known as Marginal, runs parallel to the Luanda Bay and is a great place for a nice stroll. Not only does it boast great views of the sea and the boats coming in and out of the port, but it is also lined with some beautiful buildings, like the Banco de Angola.
At one end of the avenue is the port, which is famous for its clock tower, while the old fort sits at the other end. It is the most prestigious street on the city and where many of its luxury hotels can be found.
Avenida 4 de Fevereiro is named after the struggle of independence in Angula, which was also the beginning of the Portuguese Colonial War.
António Agostinho Neto was Angola’s first president after its independence from Portugal. He led the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola and was president from 1975 to 1979.
The iconic Agostinho Neto Mausoleum can’t be missed, as it is one of the most dominating structures in Luanda. The structure towers over the rest of the city, which, in addition to being a mausoleum, is also a museum.
It takes around 20 minutes to tour the structure, where there are numerous photos of him with other political leaders around the world, including Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Honecker.
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Saviour (Sé Catedral de Luanda) is a lovely church that was built in 1628. It is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Luanda.
The church has been an important part of the country’s religious history, though in 1877 it was completely ruined. It was rebuilt between 1880 and 1900, which is what you will see today.
The church features three curved doors at the entrance, which are bordered by one larger curved façade. The cathedral was declared a building of Public Interest in 1949.
The Palácio de Ferro (Iron Palace) is a magnificent palace that was built in the city by world-renowned architect Gustave Eiffel. It is not as iconic as the builder’s other structures, but it is a stunning piece of architecture.
It is believed that the palace was built in France with the idea to have it moved to Madagascar by boat, but instead it ended up along Angola’s Skeleton Coast due to drifts from the currents. Portuguese rulers than brought it to Luanda.
It is a striking yellow building with fine wood details and decorative fencing. It has recently opened up as a diamond museum.
Quiçama National Park is the country’s only functioning national park. It sits around 70 kilometres from the city and makes for a popular safari day trip.
The 12,000 square kilometre park opened as a game reserve in 1938, but became a national park in 1957. Today, it is at the forefront of Angola’s wildlife.
The animal population in the park is thanks to a Noah’s Ark type operation where animals were transported here from Botswana and South Africa. Before that the animal population was quite low due to poaching in previous years.