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Comoros: Moroni old town

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Moroni old town | Comoros | Africa

[Visited: March 2014]

Freshly arrived on the island of Grande Comore, we enter the town in heavy rainfall, but when we have found a place to stay and left our luggage, the sun is out to greet us. We walk the coastal road towards the old part of town, and soon realize that the narrow road with bends is quite dangerous to walk on. When we reach the small harbour of Moroni, we see an attractive old mosque with a square minaret in the soft afternoon sun. We continue a little bit until we come to the old Friday mosque just across the port. Two floors with arches make this curved building a remarkable one, and we sit down to watch the sunlight giving the white walls a warm glow. We walk to the Europe Square, and enter the old town. The streets are busy; people selling and buying stuff, and we walk the narrow streets until it is dark.

Picture of Moroni old town (Comoros): Late afternoon sun on a row of houses in the old town of Moroni

The next day, we will take a boat to the island of Anjouan, but still have a couple of hours before departure time. We are allowed to leave our bags in the office of the boat company, and now walk the very narrow alleys in the old part of town we have not seen the day before. People are curious; we even meet two older men, one of whom is responsible for the maintenance of the old town. There is a variety of houses to be found: not one house is the same. We have noticed the day before that some of the doors have old wooden doors; they are finely carved with geometric figures and Arabic calligraphy. Then, there are green shutters of windows, there are small squares, there are stairs overgrown by grass and plants. We come to the bigger Badjanani square, where we also find the large City Hall of Moroni, and some old men sitting under a tree, chatting, while kids are playing with their bikes.

Picture of Moroni old town (Comoros): Carved wooden door with Arabic inscriptions in an old house in the medina of Moroni

We walk the stairs, come to yet another part of the old town, where we find more small squares and brightly painted houses, before it is time to sail to Anjouan. On that island, we get stuck in a cyclone, and when we come back to Moroni, we are running out of time. Our boat floats into the port of Moroni less than an hour before sunset, and we take the opportunity to walk the waterfront again, to the old Friday mosque - originally built in the 15th century, but renovated; the light is even better than before now and we slowly walk on, waiting for sunset on the old town, and discovering other remarkable houses and buildings, while the active volcano of Karthala, rising almost directly from the sea, is covered in clouds. It is time to say goodbye to the old town: tomorrow, we will be heading north, and then fly out.

Picture of Moroni old town (Comoros): Looking towards the old town of Moroni from the port
Picture of Moroni old town (Comoros): Stairs lead up to the old Badjanani mosque at the waterfront of Moroni
Picture of Moroni old town (Comoros): Old Friday mosque of Moroni at the end of the afternoon
Picture of Moroni old town (Comoros): Narrow street in the Arab quarter of Moroni
Picture of Moroni old town (Comoros): Richly decorated wooden door in the old Arab quarter of Moroni
Picture of Moroni old town (Comoros): One of the remarkable houses in the old town of Moroni
Picture of Moroni old town (Comoros): House and door in one of the many alleys of Moroni
Picture of Moroni old town (Comoros): Waterfront view of Moroni
Picture of Moroni old town (Comoros): Old house of Moroni in the afternoon sun
Picture of Moroni old town (Comoros): One of the squares of Moroni
Picture of Moroni old town (Comoros): The big building housing the city hall of Moroni, capital of Comoros

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