8 Amazing Landmarks In Comoros You Have to Visit
By: Claire Boyle/Arab America Contributing Writer
The country of Comoros is a beautiful place with its numerous islands, luscious scenery, and breathtaking landscapes. But, did you know that Comoros is also a part of the Arab World? Comoros is the only Arab country that is a conglomerate of islands and located in the Southern Hemisphere. Comoros is an archipelago, and its associated islands are located in the Indian Ocean near the eastern coast of Africa. The country shares borders with Madagascar, the French protectorate of Mayotte, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Seychelles.
It has a rich history. For some time, Comoros was also a French protectorate, but the country has since gained its independence. Additionally, Comoros is a member of the Arab League and the African Union. Finally, Comoros’s state religion is Sunni Islam. Their official languages are Comorian, French, and Arabic, and these influences continue to inform the diverse culture of the islands. In this article, we will be going to Comoros to explore its vast natural beauty. Here are eight amazing landmarks that you should visit when it is safe to travel again!
1. Grand Mosque du Vendredi, Moroni
The Grand Mosque du Vendredi, known as the ‘Friday Mosque’, is located in the capital city of Moroni. This mosque was built in the “Medina” or the old section of the town. It displays architectural elements that were purposely-built in the Arab-Muslim style. Actually, viewing it for the first time, I was reminded of the architecture of the Mother Mosque of America in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Both share a distinctive white and green color scheme. The “Friday Mosque” was originally built in 1427 and the minaret was added in 1921.
This is also the oldest mosque in the Medina of Moroni. It still operates in its original capacity as a worship space for Muslims. It is also a tourist site that you must visit with respect as people are worshiping. There are other mosques in the Medina, but this one is the most historic. Finally, the mosque is perched on a hill, and it is walled off from the nearby body of water.
2. Nioumachoua Beach, Mohéli
Nioumachoua Beach is considered to be the “universal recreation place for tourists.” The beach is in the city of Nyumashiwa, which is the second-largest locale on the Comorian island of Mohéli. Nioumachoua Beach is known for beautiful white beaches, the pristine blue waters of the Indian Ocean, and stunning coral reefs. You can visit these features as a form of entertainment there. There are numerous activities that a tourist can do at Nioumachoua Beach which include “diving [near] the coral reefs, fishing, sea boat tours, and tropical forest tours.”
Additionally, Nioumachoua Beach is a part of this network of mini islands called islets. It has stunning scenery, interesting wildlife, and colorful sunsets. This beach, its surrounding islands, and islets are truly pieces of paradise! Nioumachoua Beach has activities for everyone. They include meeting endemic species such as fruit bats and birds, civets, and hiking in a rain forest. I also recommend buying souvenirs from local artisans!
3. National Museum of the Comoros, Grande Comore Island:
The National Museum of the Comoros exhibits and preserves the cultural heritage of the country. It was established on Grande Comore, the largest of the islands, in its capital city of Moroni in 1989 . It showcases everything from the sciences to history, art, religion, and anthropology of the Comoros. The museum has four exhibit rooms focused on different aspects of Comorian culture, heritage, and pride. They focus their attention on important scientific problems facing the island such as volcanology, earth and natural science, and oceanography. These are emphasized along with the Comorian cultural aspects relating to the humanities. Finally, the museum’s special collections include “stone items of the ancient Maldives’ pre-Islamic times and famous costumes and ornaments worn by various kings.”
4. Mount Karthala, Grande Comore Island
Mount Karthala is an extremely active volcano located on the Comorian island of Grande Comore. At about 7700 feet above sea level, the volcano mount is the highest point in the country of Comoros. Actually, Mount Karthala is quite dangerous. Since the nineteenth century, it has erupted more than twenty times, with the most recent occurrences in 2005 and 2006. The interesting thing about the volcano is that when it erupts, it continues to create new land. This was the case of a crater lake that formed after a 1991 eruption. However, since the dynamism (changing) of the landscape continues, this lake no longer exists. Nevertheless, Mount Karthala is home to interesting wildlife that is endemic only to this habitat. These include Comorian bird species such as the Humblot’s flycatcher, Comoro white-eye, Comoro drongo, and Karthala scops owl. You can also see a prominent type of vegetation called a giant heather.
5. Lac Salé, Grande Comore Island
Lac Salé, or Salt Lake, is a salt-water lake on the island of Grande Comore. It fills what appears to be an old crater. This lake is considered a “sacred place by the locals”, said to have healing properties from its high salt content. As one can see in the photo, the panoramic views are stunning. The water is a beautiful color of turquoise, and the mountain it is within has high cliffs. There appears to be minimal vegetation that grows around the lake, but nonetheless, everything about it is amazing. There are local rumors that Lac Salé is bottomless; two divers tried to find the bottom, but they never returned to the surface again. Whether that is true remains to be seen. Regardless, this lake is beautiful and located near a national road.
6. Mayotte, French overseas department/disputed region of the Comoros
Mayotte is a region in the Comoros archipelago that belongs to the French government. In 1843, the Comorian government ceded control of Mayotte to France. But, even after voting to give Comoros its independence in the 1970s, Mayotte chose to stay as a French collective. Mayotte’s land is that of a volcanic mountain range. There are numerous coral reefs in the nearby waters that are protected.
The people of Mayotte are of Malagasy origin and they are typically either Sunni Muslim or Roman Catholic. It remains a disputed territory between the French and Comorian governments. Mayotte boasts interesting activities such as hiking in the mountains and diving in the “world’s largest lagoon.” You can see beautiful animals such as brown lemurs, humpback whales with their calves, and sea turtles, too. Finally, Mayotte is full of history. If you enjoy learning about globalization, this is the place to go. The region traces its origins to Arab, Malagasy, French, and Comorian heritages.
7. Moroni, the national capital of the Comoros
Moroni is the national capital city of Comoros. Because of its prominent position as a governmental site, it is a place rich in history, heritage, and culture. The city is located on the largest of the Comorian islands, Grande Comore as well. Moroni is thought to have been founded as early as the tenth century AD by Arabic-speaking settlers. Moroni, throughout history, and even to this day, has been known as a major commercial port. Items such as vanilla, cacao, coffee, petroleum products, soft drinks, oils, raw materials, and a special type of cement called pozzolana are traded there.
Moroni’s architecture is Arabic-style. The city boasts religious pilgrimage sites, mosques, numerous roads to travel the island, and an international airport. The pride of Moroni is its rich and lush Arab heritage which is on full display in this city. While you are in Moroni, go check out the “Friday Mosque” which was listed above!
8. Mohéli Marine Park, Mozambique Channel, the Comoros
Mohéli Marine Park is a protected region on Mohéli Island which is in the country of Comoros. The park boasts interesting wildlife and vegetation. The main reason to go there is to see all the glorious animals that call the park their home. Mohéli Marine Park’s main economic product is its ability to serve as an area dedicated to ecotourism. Mohéli Island is close to Grande Comore island. Tourists can take a quick boat trip and stay at the bungalows to traverse around the park. At the park, you can look at sea turtles, humpback whales, and snorkel in the coral reefs. The park also has numerous species of sharks that visitors can check out when they visit. At Mohéli Marine Park, it is all about the animals, conservation, and promoting ecotourism in Comoros. Go check it out for yourself when it is safe to travel again!
Thank you for joining me on this trip to the Comoros archipelago. We learned about this amazing and stunningly beautiful Arab country that is the only one in the Southern Hemisphere! From its sandy beaches to endemic wildlife, Arab architecture, interesting salt lake, and many other landmarks, the Comoros islands have something for everyone. You can learn about its rich history, take a boat to Mohéli to see its animals, snorkel in the coral reefs, look around the main cities, and visit the “Friday Mosque.” Comoros is largely unknown, and it has a long-standing background that is connected to the Arab World.
I hope that after reading this, there will be an increased interest in learning about the island. Its beautiful people, culture, and glorious landmarks that dot its shores are waiting for you. When it is safe to travel again, check out the country of Comoros, you will not be disappointed!
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