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The Island of Mozambique (Ilha de Moçambique) is located in the north of the country along the coast near Nampula. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and not without reason. The Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte, built in 1522, is considered to be the oldest European building in the southern hemisphere and this place has been a port since the 15th century. Ilha was the capital of Portuguese East Africa until 1898, when present day Maputo took over that role. The administrative buildings of the colonial era, including the Fort of Sao Sebastiao, are in the north of the island, now called Stone Town. The port function has been taken over by Nacala, but history remains in this fantastic place.
Ilha de Moçambique is now a sleepy fishing village whose population lives mainly in the makuti (reed) town in the south of the island. It takes less than half an hour to traverse the island north to south on foot, but the atmosphere is magical. There is a sense of time standing still that is evoked by the crumbling colonial Stone Town buildings, the daily dawn departure and dusk arrival of the fishing boats, the local people chatting quietly in doorways, and the jarring intrusion of the occasional car. If you like photography, idling, and/or fresh prawns, then there are few better destinations in Africa.
The (blindingly white) Church of the Misericordia can be visited when there's a mass (6:00pm most days).
There's Internet in the Telecom building just to the east of the Church of Sao Paolo (i.e. the big red one) for M80 per hour (Aug 2009).
The palace/church of Sao Paolo/Museum of Sacred Art/Maritime Museum can be visited on one M100 ticket (Aug 2009). You have to have a guide for the palace section - an English-speaking guide is available and is good. You have to have a guide for the Museum of Sacred Art but he only speaks Portuguese.
Chapas (minibuses) from Nampula to Ilha leave from the minibus park east of the railway station on Ave. do Trabalho, taking about 3 hours and costing M150 (Aug 2009). Some - maybe all - chapas will drop you at the door of your intended accommodation, so if the conductor addresses you in Portuguese while the chapa is crossing the causeway to the island then this is probably what he is asking.
Of the tourist-oriented eateries, Cafe d'Ancora d'Ouro (aka the Golden Anchor) is probably the best combination of decent prices and a comfy setting. It's opposite the Church of Misericordia. It's a magnet for foreign tourists and, as such, is also a popular place for the island's touts.
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