Monday, 18 October 2021 08:48 AM
Port Louis, the capital city of Mauritius, has lots to offer the intrepid traveller, from shopping at Le Caudan Waterfront to admiring the city’s eclectic architecture. We’ve listed a few more highlights to add to your itinerary.
Champs de Mars Racecourse
This thoroughbred racecourse was established in 1812. It is the oldest racetrack in the southern hemisphere and the second oldest in the world. It was here that the country declared independence from Britain in 1968. Today, the races meet a high international standard, and racing is one of the country’s most popular sports. The
course has a circumference of 1298 metres, and viewers can spectate from stadium seating as well as private lodges.
From this peak, which resembles a thumb (hence its name), one can see almost the entire circumference of Mauritius. Ascending to the top takes two to three hours along rocky paths lined with lush vegetation. Charles Darwin also once admired the view from the top of Le Pouce – the scientist-explorer made his own visit here in 1836.
Alongside the harbour, you will find a building complex called Aapravasi Ghat (“Immigration Depot” in Hindi). This UNESCO World Heritage Site saw the arrival of about half a million indentured labourers for work on sugar plantations from 1849 to 1923, mostly from India. The Immigration Depot has become an important reference point in the history and cultural identity of Mauritius.
There are many interesting museums in Port Louis, including:
- The Photography Museum houses Tristan Bréville’s cameras and his personal collection of one million images documenting the history of Mauritius. The museum boasts a collection of daguerreotype images that are the first photos taken anywhere in Africa.
- The Blue Penny Museum centres on two of the rarest stamps in the world: the red penny and the blue penny. Both were issued in 1847 by the British colonial
government and only 500 were printed of each, from a single plate. The last one sold at public auction in 2011 fetched more than £1 million – the highest price ever paid for a stamp. The Blue Penny Museum showcases rare examples of the stamps, but only for 10 minutes at a time.