Thursday, 10 September 2009
wandering around the old parts of Port Louis.....
Port Louis was founded by the French around 1735 as a revictualling halt for their ships travelling around the Cape of Good Hope, and was built by skilled Tamilian craftsmen from India around 1728. The Port is named in honour of King Louis XV. The first Governor was Count Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais.
Port Louis has conserved many historic and colonial buildings through the years. One of them is a fortification named Fort Adelaide or La Citadelle, built by the British in 1835. The latter dominates the city. From there, one can observe most of the city's architecture. Port Louis is surrounded by a mountain range, called the Port Louis Moka Range. Among its most famous mountains are Le Pouce and Pieter Both which stand about 800 metres from sea level. One of the most popular attractions is the country's national derby called Champ de Mars, which is the oldest race course (1812) in the Indian Ocean and the second oldest in the southern Hemisphere. Other famous destinations include the Police Barracks known as Les Casernes and the Port Louis Waterfront.
Port Louis was used only during summer (due to prevailing winds) by the Dutch and the French since the 1600's, and early 1700's. However, it took all its importance when, in 1735 Labourdonnais decided to make Port Louis the main harbour and the administration headquarters of Mauritius.
Labourdonnais had the city plan made, ordered the erection of buildings hosting services that were essential to the colony… and to the good profits of the "Compagnie des Indes." Among these infrastructures were the government and military headquarters, aqueducts, hospitals, schools, granaries, boat repairs, a printing office, a foundry, and… a powder mill. Some of these works, especially the canals for wastewaters that run across the streets, can still be seen today.
Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius and received in 1964, the status of city. Port Louis has a residential population of above 150,000 but receives as much visitors during daytime as it is first of all the city of businesses.
It has been frequently hypothesized that Mauritius was first discovered by the Arabs, who named the island Dina Harobi. The first historical evidence of the existence of an island now known as Mauritius is on a map produced by the Italian cartographer Alberto Cantino in 1502. Cantino shows three islands which are thought to represent the Mascarenes (Reunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues) and calls them Dina Margabin, Dina Harobi and Dina Morare. What is known is that the medieval Arab world called the Indian Ocean island region Waqwaq.
[ The Markets of Port Louis is saved for the next posting on the blog ! ]