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In the late 15th century, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed on Sultan Ali Musa Mbiki’s small island of Arab shipbuilders. Within a decade, the Portuguese took control of the island and named it in honor of the deposed sultan: Moçambique. By the close of the 16th century, Moçambique would become the capital of Portuguese East Africa and one of the largest centers of the slave trade on the continent.
The fortress highlighted in this photo essay was the largest and most significant among a series of forts that guarded the strategically important island from intruders, keeping the trade of goods and people flowing for centuries. However, the fort holds several other distinctions as well, most notably being the oldest complete fort still standing in sub-Saharan Africa (1558), and housing the oldest European building in the entire southern hemisphere!
In addition to being a place full of history, St. Sebastian fort is built against one of the most stunning backdrops anywhere.