15 Must See Cultural Sights in Mauritius

03 Oct 15 Must See Cultural Sights in Mauritius

Our cultural history is a detailed, delicate tapestry woven with the threads of many different cultures including Creoles, Hindus, Tamils, Marathi, Muslims, Chinese and more. This provides abundant opportunities for cultural exploration.

1. Blue Penny Museum

Established in 2001 in Le Caudan Waterfront, the Blue Penny Museum is devoted to Mauritian history and art. Prestigious collections, works of high quality and enlightening comments carry you, across ancient maps and ancient coins, back to the times of marine navigation and exploration in the Indian Ocean and the colonial history of the island. The original statue of the heroes of the romantic novel Paul and Virginie, the extremely rare Blue Penny and Red Penny postal stamps count among some of the assets of the museum

2. L’Aventure du Sucre

Close to Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, an old sugar factory has been converted into a museum dedicated to 250 years of the history of sugar production in Mauritius, wherein lie the foundation of the country’s history, the roots of its identity, the basis of its economic development and… the island’s very soul. The name of the museum means “the adventure of sugar”. All along an interactive path that calls to all ages, set between old sugar factory machinery and hedges of sugar cane, the history and story of the sheer “Mauritian gold” unrolls. 2 mascots engage the youngest visitors in a game of question and answer throughout the visit. At the end of the itinerary, a tasting of sugar and cane liquor (rum) takes place. Visitors can thereafter go through the Village Boutik for souvenirs and enjoy lunch at Le Fangourin restaurant set in beautiful gardens of the old sugar domain.

3. Aapravasi Ghat (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Located in Port Louis, this is the very site which served, between 1834 à 1910, as the immigration gateway of indentured workers coming to the island from India, East Africa, Madagascar, China and South-East Asia to work in the sugar cane fields. This was part and parcel of the socio-economic operation then termed « the great experiment ». The old depot, built in 1849, remains to date the sole remnant of this particular diaspora of modern times. The old depot, built in 1849, remains to date the sole remnant of this particular diaspora of modern times. It is because of this that it is recognized as a major historical landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

4. Le Morne Brabant (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Rising to 555 metres above the sea on the south-western coast of the island, Le Morne Brabant has become a world symbol of freedom from slavery. Whereas the seaside at its foot and the exquisite beaches it shelters are today the pride of several luxury hotels, the mount itself was in fact the place where fugitive slaves used to hide during the early colonial times of the island. Today it represents a memorial to the common memories of all slaves of that period, as represented by the commemorative plaque in honour of “the unknown slave”. Le Morne Brabant, as the Aapravasi Ghat in Port Louis, record the distressing pages of history of Mauritius, which have been slavery and indentured labour. Le Morne Brabant was officially declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2008. Another noteworthy fact: Le Morne is also the sole remaining natural habitat to the trochetia flower or « earring » flower, which is Mauritius’ national emblem since 1992.

5. Le Château de Labourdonnais

Dating from 1859, this family home embodies the concept of “a castle at the heart of nature”. It is today an invitation to discover 19th century art of living in Mauritius, reconciling history, culture, flowers and fruit trees, gastronomy and Mauritian know-how against the agricultural roots of the domain within which it is planted. Above 50 hectares of land are still under cultivation, producing a variety of tropical fruits such as citrus, papaya, mango, guava, passion fruit. There is also a distillery – Rhumerie des Mascareignes, which elaborates fine agricultural rum and where one can learn about the distillation process and maturing techniques.

6. Les Aubineaux

Located on the uplands, Les Aubineaux is one of the last remaining typical colonial mansions dating from the end of the 19th century. The domain contains a distillery producing essential oils and shelters an exquisite floral park and age- old endemic and camphor trees. In the house one can admire exquisite pieces of furniture showing off their stylish East India Company style and an interesting collection of old photographs before enjoying a traditional tea break.

7. Frederick Hendrik Museum

Situated in Old Grand Port, on a coastline that has made its way into historical records for many a reason, this charming museum has been built in a beautiful garden planted with trees and flowers. Old Grand Port and its mountainous backdrop and undulating greenery sloping down close to the sea has seen the construction of the first stone building of the Indian Ocean. This was the first port of the island; this is where the Dutch landed and settled on the island (which, by the way, was named Mauritius in honour of the elder brother of Frederik Hendrik – Prince Maurice de Nassau). The museum takes you back to the times of the first inhabitants of the island and exhibits an array of archaeological artefacts recovered from excavations, such as chinaware, fragments of pipes, old tools, a few ornaments and some cannon balls.

8. Photography Museum

Located in Port Louis, this private museum was founded by Mr Tristan Breville & his wife. The museum proudly counts almost a million photographs. The daguerreotype landed in Mauritius in 1840, only four months after the acquisition of Louis Daguerre’s patent in France, making Mauritius one of the first countries across the world to have practiced photography. The museum proudly counts in its collection more than 1000 cameras from various times, among which the lens manufactured by Charles Chevalier for Daguerre in 1839. The museum also serves as an iconographic research centre, including a dedicated library, a collection of ancient postcards and more than 25 hours of old films about Mauritius.

9. Mahebourg Naval Museum

Located in Port Louis, this private museum was founded by Mr Tristan Breville & his wife. The museum proudly counts almost a million photographs. The daguerreotype landed in Mauritius in 1840, only four months after the acquisition of Louis Daguerre’s patent in France, making Mauritius one of the first countries across the world to have practiced photography. The museum proudly counts in its collection more than 1000 cameras from various times, among which the lens manufactured by Charles Chevalier for Daguerre in 1839. The museum also serves as an iconographic research centre, including a dedicated library, a collection of ancient postcards and more than 25 hours of old films about Mauritius.

10. Mauritius Post Museum

Located in Port Louis, the museum uncovers key moments in the history of the Mauritius Post and its evolution to current days and is symbolical of the efforts that were invested through time to improve local and international communications. The building housing the museum is one of the oldest of the capital city – it was inaugurated in 1868. Not to be missed: the rare opportunity of viewing on original specimen of the famous Black penny stamp, which is the first stamp ever to be issued by Great Britain.

11. Chinese Cultural Heritage Museum

This museum is set in Grand Bay. It tells the history and the story of the Chinese Diaspora to Mauritius by way of 6 themes: the arrival of the immigrants; the shop; the food; Chinese culture; the pagoda and the Chinese newspaper. A typical Chinese shop has been reconstituted, where one can experience what it was like in the good old days – with its traditional scale, abacus calculator, the salted fish displayed in the shop window. Another immersion into local Chinese lifestyle takes place inside the typical traditional kitchen, with its wok pans, enamel crockery and petrol burners. One also gets a better understanding of the vicissitudes that Chinese immigrants were confronted to, back then, and how this community took part in the construction of modern-day Mauritius.

12. La Maison Euréka

La Maison Eureka, better known as The Creole Mansion, was built in 1830. A visit there is a time travel to 19th century colonial lifestyle in Mauritius as you stroll across the music and art rooms and the salons exhibiting ancient geographical, antique objects and old photos. Besides its historical value, if only for its manicured English-styled garden and a refreshing pause in its wonderful natural setting above the waterfalls of the lush green quarters of Moka, the domain is well worth a visit.

13. The Citadel

Formally named Fort Adelaide, commonly known as The Citadel, this historical and imposing stone architecture overlooking the city and port from a hill, was constructed between 1834 and 1840 as a military measure to protect Port Louis against uprisings occurring on the island in the wake of the abolition of slavery. The view one gets from this point of vantage makes it well worth a visit.

14. Natural History Museum

This is the oldest museum of the island and was declared National Museum in 2000. It occupies the site of the ancient Royal College of Port Louis and bears witness to the wealth of Mauritian fauna and flora. The museum shelters 35,000 samples of geological and natural history, of which 3,000 can be viewed.

15. Fishermen’s villages

Fishing has been traditionally present all around the coast of the island. Many regions still harbour villages which bear the distinctive lifestyle and spirit of a fisherman’s abode including, Grand Gaube, Souillac, Le Morne, Trou d’Eau Douce, Case Noyale, La Gaulette and Mahebourg. In its traditional form, fishing remains popular, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy the catch of the day at its freshest. The most appreciated, as known under their local names, are the “dorade” (sea bream or common dolphin fish), “vieille rouge” (blacktip grouper) and “cateau” (parrotfish).

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