Main Attractions



The island I’ve been talking about is a monument by itself (I said it before and I say it again) but if I had to pick the two main attractions on the island that had to be the Saint Sebastian fortress and Saint Paulo palace and museum. Besides major tourist attractions, they both share the aspect of being in very urgent need of restoration.


The museum is actually receiving a facelift thanks to a private donation and there is also good news for the fortress. The fund for its rehabilitation exists but we were told that each year that the amount is not allocated it becomes more and more insufficient for the existing needs.


We visited both places. The fortress is huge. From the outside, the walls of stone look more or less in good shape. The buildings inside are desperately in need of repair. Just to name a few: the stones have been facing time and weather conditions by themselves; the miniature of the fortress is destroyed; the inside citadel is a ghost town, the old ammunition deposit is now a bush, the water supply system looks abandoned, trees inside buildings mean huge trouble, inside the dormitory is empty and spooky; the prisoner solitary hole was opened and is now a sunny place; paths look old and weedy; the stones tell about the past; the refectory saw better days; Abdul wanted to feel how it is waiting for execution standing on the spot; despite the distress of our guide, I could take a photo of the local “singing ghost”; the kitchen is a disaster; the larder looks like a good place to store rubbish; one of the various existing water deposits is really impressive; the arms warehouse is a public toilet; the church is agonizing; inside, the small chapel is not so destroyed…


Like a twin brother, the museum looks abandoned and a little poor in terms of content. To make things worse, we saw at least 5 spots where the rain enters without paying a ticket. By the way, I was surprised to pay for a visit without receiving a single paper to prove that payment. A little of control and the museum would have enough money for basic repairs. We saw the rickshaws once used on the island, galleries with few portrays; bedrooms generally in red; saloons, dinning area and even a kitchen


Despite the museum history, the most interesting episode our guide was able to tell us is quite recent. Samora Machel, the first president of Mozambique, slept in this bed during a short stay on the island. His security personnel stayed in a nearby room. Machel was awakened the next morning with the news that the “big guys” had damaged 500 years chairs with their weight. He had to conclude it was a mistake the idea of sleeping there. For me, the most interesting part is that 30 years went by and the damaged chairs are still waiting for repair. Or are those unfortunate chairs condemned to be crippled because that episode is part of history too?