Angola Cities and World Heritage Site

Old Town of M'banza Congo (World Heritage)


Benguela, provincial capital with a fishing port on the Atlantic coast of Angola, (2014) 555 100 residents.

Seat of a Catholic bishop. Benguela was an overseas port for a long time until a new port was built in nearby Lobito in 1919.

Benguela is the oldest Portuguese settlement in Angola (founded in 1617) and was an important starting point for the establishment of further cities inland.


Huambo [  ambu], 1928-75 Nova Lisboa [-li ʒ  above], provincial capital in western Angola, on the Benguela railway, 1715 m above sea level (2014) 595 300 residents.

Catholic Archbishop’s Seat; Research institutes; Commercial center; large railway workshops; Airport.

Huambo was founded in 1912; originally Angola’s second most important industrial location; largely destroyed during the civil war (former UNITA main base); large parts of the population (1995: 400,000 residents) had to flee the city.


Lubango, until 1976 Sá da Bandeira [- dε ɪ ra], provincial capital in southwest Angola, in the Serra da Chela, 1 770 m above sea level (2014) 600 800 residents.

Catholic archbishop’s seat, ethnographic museum; agricultural trading center; Airport.


According to, Luanda is the capital and most important port of Angola, with (2014) 6.8 million residents. Seat of a university and the Catholic Archbishop. Luanda was founded as a Portuguese fort in 1575, the cathedral dates from the 17th century.

Old Town of M’banza Congo (World Heritage)

The city of M’banza Kongo in the north-west of Angola is the oldest, almost continuously inhabited city in the west of Central Africa and was valid in the 16th and 17th centuries. Century as the largest city in Africa. As the capital of the historic Kingdom of the Congo, M’banza was the political and religious center of one of the largest empires in Central Africa from the 14th to the 19th centuries.

Old City of M’banza Congo: Facts

Official title: Old town of M’banza Congo
Cultural monument: Old town M’banza, in particular the remains of the Royal Palace, the Catholic Mission, the House of the King’s Secretary, the grave of Dona Mpolo, the mother of King Alfonso I, and the cemetery of the Congo kings
Continent: Africa
Country: Angola
Location: in northwest Angola, near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Appointment: 2017
Meaning: impressive testimony to the influence of the colonial power of Portugal on the architecture and way of life in an important historical capital in sub-Saharan Africa

An early African capital

M’banza Kongo was probably founded in the late 14th century. The exposed location on a plateau at a height of almost 600 m was ideally suited as a location to ward off possible enemies. When the first Portuguese came to the Congo region around 1482 and the first contact with the then King Nkuwu was made in 1489, M’banza was already a large city. It was surrounded by a defensive wall and in its center was a large square where visitors were received and coronations were performed. The tribal court met under the court tree. The residents lived in thatched wooden huts.

Portuguese influence changed the face of the city

King Nkuwu cooperated with the Portuguese, who gave him military support. His son Alfonso I (1456-1543) was raised by Christian missionaries. Under his rule, Christianization was promoted and traditional religions were pushed back. Alfons had the wooden houses replaced by stone houses, fortified the city wall and built a city palace for himself. After his death, the Jesuits arranged for further stone buildings, including a church in honor of Jesus the Redeemer (Jesus el Salvador). From that time on the city was commonly called Sao Salvador.

The city reached its heyday around 1650. Shortly afterwards, however, a civil war broke out over the succession to the government. The city lay fallow for 30 years and people fled to the countryside. It was not until 1688 that Sao Salvador was repopulated, but it no longer achieved its original status. It was still considered a holy place, kings were crowned there, but often lived in their clans outside the city in order to be more mobile and to be able to defend themselves better. When the slave trade slowly declined from the middle of the 19th century, M’banza Kongo became part of a trade route for ivory and rubber. King Pedro V rebuilt the city and opened it up to missionaries and European business people. From the mid-1920s to 1960, M’banza Kongo was part of Portugal’s classic colonial system.

Old Town of M'banza Congo (World Heritage)