Beira is the second largest city in the Republic of Mozambique. It lies in the central region of the country in Sofala Province, where the Pungwe River meets the Indian Ocean.
Beira had a population of 412,588 in 1997, which grew to an estimated 546,000 in 2006. It holds the regionally significant Port of Beira which acts as a gateway for both the central interior portion of the country as well as the land-locked nations of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.
Beira was originally developed by the Portuguese Mozambique Company in the 19th century, and directly developed by the Portuguese colonial government from 1947 until Mozambique gained its independence from Portugal in 1975.
Known as the 'heart of Mozambique' it is situated halfway up the coast in Sofala province at the mouth of the Púngoè River. It is also the end of the oil pipeline and railway to Zimbabwe (distance to Harare is 600km, and distance to Johannesburg is 1 800km).
Although run down and neglected, the buildings have a Mediterranean style and the infrastructure of the city is being re established after years of neglect and abuse.
The centre of the city is much more compact than Maputo and can be very confusing since most of the street signs are missing. No one really knows the streets by their names and thus interpreting directions from locals is not always easy.
Where is Beira Mozambique
Beira is located on the Mozambique Channel, an arm of the Indian Ocean located between Madagascar and Mozambique. The city sits north of the mouth of the convergence of two major rivers of Mozambique: the Buzi River and the Pungwe River.
The Buzi crosses 250 kilometers (160 mi) across Manica and Sofala provinces to form a wide estuary. The Pungwe crosses 400 kilometers (250 mi) from the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe also through Manica and Sofala provinces to Beira.
History of Beira Mozambique
The city was established in 1890 by the Portuguese and soon supplanted Sofala as the main port in the Portuguese-administered territory.
Originally called Chiveve, after a local river, it was renamed to honor the Portuguese Crown prince Dom Luís Filipe who, in 1907, was the first member of the Portuguese royal family to visit Mozambique.
Traditionally the Portuguese Crown prince carried the title of Prince of Beira, a historical province of mainland Portugal. The Portuguese built the port and a railway to Rhodesia, Portuguese families settled in the newly founded locality and started to develop commercial activities.
With the growth of the village, in 1907 the Portuguese Crown elevated Beira to the status of city (cidade). Headquarters of the Companhia de Moçambique (Mozambique Company) from 1891, the city's administration passed from the trading company to the Portuguese government in 1942.
In 1966, the construction of a new railway station was completed. Before Mozambique's independence from Portugal, as a city of Portuguese Mozambique, Beira was noted for its well-equipped seaport, one of the major facilities of its kind in all East Africa, tourism, fishing and trade.
The city prospered as a cosmopolitan port with different ethnic communities (Portuguese, Indian, Chinese, Bantus such as the Sena and Ndau) employed in administration, commerce, and industry.
A large English-speaking population was the result of being a favorite holiday destination for white Rhodesians. One reminder of this is the Grande Hotel, built by the Portuguese, near the shore of the Indian Ocean. By 1970, the city of Beira had 113,770 inhabitants.
Tourist Attractions in Beira Mozambique
Shipwrecks in Beira:
Beira is also known as "the ship graveyard". Explore South of Beira's coastline which is littered with old rusted hulls of beached and washed up shipwrecks.
Be sure to visit the renowned lighthouse on the popular beach of Macuti in Beira.
Savane Beach near Beira:
If you have time in Beira and would like to explore some more beaches, then head off to Savane Beach (appoximately 30km North East of Beira - which should take about an hour to get there - 4x4's only!).
Once almost reaching your destination you will have to park your car and take a boat trip to the beach itself. Here the atmosphere is great!
You can spend the day admiring the magnificent views while having lunch and a few drinks at a quaint restaurant. Then you can either take the time walk along the beaches beautiful white sands or take a swim in the more azure waters of the small river estuarys that form here.
Bird enthusiasts will be happy to know that this is also a great place for bird watching. Accommodation is also available in Savane if you would like to stay the night.
Restaurants and Cuisines in Beira:
There are some excellent seafood restaurants to dine at in and around Beira. Traditional african & South African cuisines can be enjoyed at Bique's restaurant, which can be found on a beach, South East of the CBD.
Nautico's is also another lovely restaurant set on a beach, North East of Beira CBD. What’s great about Nautico's is that it takes full and unashamed advantage of the beauty of Beira's waterfront.
Another recommended restaurant is Kanimambo, downtown Beira, serving excellent chinese food. Otherwise tourists can enjoy many Restaurants, cafe's, local markets and curios shops in Beira's city centre.
Historical landmarks from the 16th century (1501):
The Cathedral of Beira & Ruins of the Fort in Sofala:
A magnificent piece of architecture design ... had used stone from the ruins of a Fort in Sofala (Fort San Gaetano) to build the cathedral itself. Fort San Gaetano was erected right back in the early 16th centuary (1501) and apparantly it was the very first white man (European) built structure, in the whole of southern africa.
The Grande Hotel Beira:
At the mouth of Pungoe river, you will find the old dilapidated hotel, called The Grand Hotel. Built in 1952 and labeled as the "pride of Africa", The Grande Hotel was regarded as one of Africa's largest and finest Hotels of modern standards at the time.
Unfortunately, the Hotel closed just over a decade later in 1963 when the Portuguese Colonial War broke out, leaving it as a refugee camp. Prior to the hotels 'abandonment', there were high expectations that the hotel would gain large profits and attract wealthy businessman from all over world but their expectations were never met.
Plans to build a casino in the Hotel were also considered but failed to get authorization from the government. Today, nature has taken over the building with animals & hundreds of squatters now inhabit the place.
Game Reserves & National Parks near Beira:
Gorongosa National Park North of Beira:
A massive 4000km2 national park - this game reserve is still going through some rehabilitation - the "Restoration Project". Organizations are working to restore, preserve and protect the wildlife & one of the most beautiful geographical areas in the world.
There is a variety of distinct eco-systems to explore. From Limestone gorges that overlook massive rain forests to mountainous terrain to savannah grasslands. Go and enjoy a true African safari in Mozambique to Gorongosa national Park. This is an almost untouched game reserve.
|Languages spoken||Portuguese, English|
|Currency used||Mozambican Metical (MZN)|