Perched on the Atlantic coastline, Luanda’s spectacular setting matches its exotic atmosphere. Since Angola gained independence over 30 years ago, the capital has grown into a sprawling city home to more than 3.5 million people. From the picturesque Marginal promenade to the balmy ocean-side neighborhoods, the city is downright intoxicating.
One of the most popular sights in the city is the Museu de Antropologia, housed in the Fortaleza de São Miguel, the capital’s oldest surviving building. Built by the Portuguese in the late 16th century, the fort provides a stunning setting for one of Angola’s best museums. The fascinating collection includes many treasures from throughout the country’s history, including masks, hunting tools used by the indigenous people and musical instruments. The nearby Museu de História Natural is also worth a visit for its two permanent exhibits detailing the mammals and marine life of Angola.
The fort also houses the Museu Central das Forças Armadas, the country’s military museum. From the top of the fort, visitors can enjoy sweeping panoramic views of the city and the coastline.
No matter where you are in the capital, it is impossible to miss the obelisk-like building that towers above the city. Inside the massive structure is the Agostinho Neto Mausoleum, dedicated to Angola’s first president. The mausoleum contains a small museum dedicated to the country’s struggle for independence.
The National Museum of Slavery is also worth a visit. Housed in the Capela de Casa Grande, where slaves were baptized before being taken to the Americas, the museum’s collection includes shackles, stocks, whips and framed prints that detail the harrowing experience of the slaves.
Strolling aimlessly is one of the best ways to explore Luanda, and one of the best places to do it is at the Marginal, the harbor-side district dominated by the Banco Nacional de Angola. The building’s pink facade and towering dome are icons of the city, designed by Vasco Regaleira in 1956.
Architectural buffs will particularly appreciate the Palacio de Ferro. Built in the late 19th century for the Paris Universal Exhibition, the entire palace was dismantled and rebuilt in Luanda in 1902. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, architect of the famous Parisian tower, the palace is one of the most stunning buildings in all of Angola.
Among the city’s skyscrapers are a smattering of beautiful colonial churches. One of the most impressive is the Igreja de Nossa Senhora de Nazaré, constructed in 1664. The double-domed Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios is also worth a visit.
The Parque Nacional de Kissama, the country’s best wildlife park, is situated just 43 miles south of the capital. The huge expanse of coastal savannah is home to palanca antelopes, elephants, sea turtles, water buffalo and an abundance of other incredible indigenous creatures. Designated as a national park in 1957, the reserve is part of a relief project called Operation Noah’ Ark. Under the program, the Angolan government imports elephants and other animals targeted by poachers from Botswana and South Africa. After the first year of the program, the reserve gained 16 elephants, a dozen zebras and ostriches, four giraffes and 14 wildebeests.
Luanda Geographical Location
Luanda is located on the western coast of Angola facing the Atlantic Ocean towards the northern border.
Luanda has a population of 9,700,00 making it the largest city in Angola.
Portuguese is the official language of Angola although there is a large percentage of the population, reportedly half, that speaks Bantu as their native tongue.
Luanda Predominant Religion
- 47% Indigenous Beliefs
- 38% Roman Catholic
- 15% Protestant
Religious practices are monitored by a national institution in Angola and maintain a register of Angola’s religious communities that total more than a thousand.
The Kuanza is the official currency of Angola.
Luanda experiences a semi-arid climate with March and April being the few months that experience any significant rainfall. The temperature is normally hot throughout the year with little variation.
Luanda Main Attractions
- National Anthropology Museum
- National Slavery Museum
- Ilha do Mussulo
Other Attraction in Luanda
- Cidade Alta
- Kissama Game Park
- National Monument