Historical Places in Mauritius
July 25 2019
July 25 2019
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “Mauritius”? Images of pristine golden beaches lined by tropical trees and dazzling cyan waters? Vivid green volcanic hills, rich with endemic flora? Extraordinary luxury hotels along magnificent beaches? Or is it eclectic, vibrant city centres and local markets? Or perhaps all of the above?
Mauritius is the definition of tropical paradise. It’s a dream destination for many, popular amongst honeymooners and family holidaymakers in search of safe, sunny shores to enjoy memorable moments with their loved ones. And while this volcanic island gem is undoubtedly beautiful, it offers discerning travellers so much more than meets the eye.
Apart from the magical surrounds, Mauritius has a wonderful culinary scene and a diverse, rich religious and cultural landscape, which is largely attributed to its a surprising history. The history of the small island nation is utterly fascinating (even if you aren’t a history buff) and a better understanding of the history of the island allows visitors greater insight into the vibrant country. You can gain a better understanding by visiting a few important historical places in Mauritius.
Here are some of our recommendations:
By far one of the most important historical sites for many in Mauritius, Aapravasi Ghat, which directly translates to “Immigration Depot”, was where indentured labourers from India were sent as they arrived on the island. Situated right by the sea in the capital city of Port Louis, the site today has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains the remains of the buildings that formed the complex used for indentured labourers during British colonial rule.
There is also an interpretation centre and guided tours are offered (and highly recommended) in order for visitors to fully understand the significance of this site which saw some 500 000 indentured labourers in total pass through it between 1850 and 1923, to be used as labourers in British colonies and on the sugar plantations in Mauritius. It’s said that the ancestors of around 70% of the country’s population today arrived through this immigration depot. It’s a hugely significant site and well worth a visit.
St. Aubin House
For those who are interested in the colonial history of Mauritius, then one of the best places to visit is definitely St. Aubin house, situated on an old plantation. The property is almost two hundred years old and was once home to a sugar factory (which was moved in the 70s) and a rum distillery exists on it today. There is also a tropical garden, spice garden and vanilla house and on a guided tour you will be able to see what living on this plantation was like for the colonialists. There’s also a fabulous restaurant that serves up an incredible lunch with local, fresh ingredients at the core of its menu.
Another plantation well worth visiting is the famous Bois Cheri tea plantation, one of the most popular of its kind along the tea route in Mauritius. Spanning an incredible 250 hectares, the plantation is best seen via a guided tour which will give you a full understanding of the workings of the plantation and its history. There is also an exhibition here and you can sample some of the teas grown on the plantation itself, making it a truly wonderful historical place in Mauritius to discover.
While we are on the theme of colonial properties, another magnificent place to explore is Eureka House. This phenomenal tropical colonial mansion was built in the early 1800s and has been converted into a museum which highlights the life of the colonialists at the time. Incredible furniture, old maps and phenomenal antiques make this a very special place to visit.
Le Morne Brabant
Another hugely significant historical site in Mauritius, Le Morne Brabant, the iconic mountain a short distance from the popular Le Morne Beach in the southwest of the island, was said to have been a safe haven for runaway slaves that had managed to escape their incarceration. It is said that they set up small communities and lived in caves until slavery was abolished when a very sad event took place here. The mountain today is seen as a symbol of hope and freedom and it has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can hike the mountain with a guide or simply visit it, where the memorial at its foot gives some insight into the significance of this site.
This military building, which also goes by the name Fort Adelaide, was built in the 19th century by the British to protect the British Army. It was interestingly constructed in a Moorish style and is a hugely popular site today given its unbelievable panoramic views of Port Louis and the harbour. There are also souvenir shops nearby which once served as barracks of the fort.
Martello Tower Museum
Situated in La Preneuse in the Black River district is the Martello Tower Museum. Centred on the original Martello tower built back in the 1800s by the British (to protect them from the French), the Martello Tower Museum is a fabulous stop, where guides take visitors on a tour of the grounds and explain the intricate architecture of the tower and its purpose. The original copper cannons which had a firing range of 2 kilometres are also impressive. Quite different to the rest of the historical places in Mauritius, it’s well worth a visit.
Beau Plan Sugar Mill
For those interested in the sugar trade in Mauritius, the Beau Plan Sugar Mill is a fabulous place to visit. What was once an impressive sugar mill and factory built in 1797 (and which was closed in 1999), is today a fascinating museum with an exhibit that explains the history of sugar in Mauritius and it covers everything from the sugar industry and slavery to the Mauritian rum trade. A tour of the museum can take between 2 and 3 hours and ends with a sugar tasting.
Baie de l’Arsenal
In the north of the island, there are ruins of a French Arsenal where you can see the remains of a once thriving foundry which produced a wealth of military supplies. In 1774 there was an explosion at the foundry which sadly killed some 300 slaves. It’s one of the lesser known historical places in Mauritius, but definitely worth a stop if you are in the area.
We have already mentioned Port Louis when we spoke about Aapravasi Ghat, but the immigration depot is definitely not the only thing to see in this vibrant capital city when it comes to historical places in Mauritius, which is why we think it deserves a tour in its own right. This thriving city is the business, cultural and political hub of the island and holds many historical gems. Take a walk around the city and marvel at the different architectural styles inspired by different cultures. Some of the highlights in Port Louis (other than Aapravasi Ghat) include the picturesque Place d’Armes, the Government House, the Municipal Theatre, the Natural History Museum and the Blue Penny Museum, among many others.
Interested in spending some time in this tropical paradise and uncovering some of the fascinating historical places in Mauritius? Then have a look at our exceptional resorts in Mauritius - any of which are sure to be the perfect home away from home in this magical destination.