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Visited by the Portuguese and Spaniards and colonised by the Dutch, the French, and finally the British, Mauritius is a gold mine for colonial history buffs. Here is your dawn-to-dusk map to get a sample of the country’s history and experience some of its impressive culture.
There is no better place to begin this journey than Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius. To go down memory lane, visit the Photography Museum of Mauritius. The 18th century building is home to thousands of historical pictures taken on the island during the 18th and 19th centuries. Located on Rue du Vieux Conseil (Old Council Street), a colonial-rich area of the city, the Museum also stores newspapers from the same period. A titanic work of one man, Tristan Breville, the Museum is the heartbeat of the colonial past of the island.
Stepping out of the Museum and onto paved streets leads to the Place D’Armes (Armours’ Square). On one end stands the National Assembly of Mauritius, a colonial-architectural prowess with Her Majesty Queen Victoria standing in front. At the other end is the harbour with a statue of Mahé de Labourdonnais, architect and founder of the city. In between the two and under the shade of tall palm trees stand several statues or busts of men who contributed to the socio-economic advancement of the country.
Engage the motorway and travel to the Chateau de Labourdonnais. Located in the northern village of Mapou, the private estate spans over 540 hectares (around 1334 acres) of land. Stunning gardens also attract the eye, but make time for lunch at La Table du Chateau. In a colonial-inspired setting, this gastronomic restaurant mesmerises the palate at every bite. A blend of Creole and European cuisine, du Chateau gives an honest taste of the island. Built in 1774, it has only recently been opened to the public.
Further north stands Pamplemousses Village and a visit to the Chateau Mon Plaisir. Serving as the official residence of the French governor, Mahé de Labourdonnais, it is surrounded by a botanical garden, believed to be the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere. Still in immaculate condition, the chateau is a national gem.
Head back to the capital and enjoy a drink and dinner at Lambic. This beer shop and restaurant, located in a 19th-century-built building, has a majestic stone-paved garden and is surrounded by centenarian trees. The wooden frame inside the colonial building has been beautifully restored.
Mauritius’s colonial past is not just buildings, photographs, or food. It persists as a way of life for many locals.