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Africa > Central Africa > Angola > Northern Angola > M'banza-Kongo

M'banza-Kongo

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M'banza-Kongo is a city of 175,000 in Northern Angola, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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The cathedral ruins

The city and its cultural landscape of both precolonial and colonial has been designated a World Heritage Site. While many buildings were ruined in the Angolan Civil War, some historic sights remain.

  • Ruins of a cathedral built in 1549, which is the oldest church in sub-Saharan Africa outside of Ethiopia. The present-day church, called São Salvador, known locally as nkulumbimbi, is said to have been built by angels overnight. It was elevated to the status of cathedral in 1596. Pope John Paul II visited the site during his tour of Angola in 1992.
  • Memorial to the mother of King Afonso I of Kongo near the airport. It commemorates a popular legend that began in the 1680s that the king had buried his mother alive because she was not willing to give up an "idol" which she wore around her neck.
  • The Jalankuwo, the Manikongo's judgement tree, can still be found in the downtown area of the city, along with sunguilu, a rectangular ground level structure where local tradition says the king's body was washed before burial, both on the grounds of the royal palace and present day Royal Museum.
  • The Royal Museum, rebuilt as a modern structure, houses an impressive collection of artifacts from the old Kingdom, even though many were lost from the older building during the Civil War of 1976–2002.

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