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Blantyre & Limbe
Region: South Malawi
Attraction Type: Cultural / People

 

Blantyre

The largest urban area in Malawi, the conurbation of Blantyre & Limbe, is the country’s commercial capital. Now with a population in excess of half a million, this settlement has its origins with the Scottish missionaries from the time of David Livingstone. (It is named after Livingstone’s birthplace in Scotland.) Today it is unquestionably the centre of Malawi’s industry and commerce. Strictly two towns, Limbe and Blantyre form a continuous urban area yet retain their individualities and separate cores. Blantyre has the status and much of the administrative functions but Limbe is the more industrial.

Much of the city's recent development has been between the traditional centres of Blantyre and Limbe. New shopping precincts have been built, with one even boasting a cinema. A smaller mall, but one offering high quality mementoes of Malawi, is the Ute Waleza Centre, off Kidney Cresent. During the day, shops which are a must include African Habitat, with its locally crafted ornaments and furnishings, and the Central Africana gallery: full of fascinating books and modern and historical maps and prints. In the evening, L'Hosteria Restaurant and the Twiga Lounge come into their own.

Blantyre has a number of historical buildings of interest. Perhaps the most impressive is St Michael and All Angels church, built by men with no training in architecture, construction or even brick-making. Others include the original town hall (Old Boma) and Mandala House, built in 1882 as the headquarter of the African Lakes Company. It was Malawi's first two-storey building and is believed now to be the country's oldest house. Mandala House is host to the 'The Society of Malawi' which protects and nourishes a true treasure trove of the country's history. With thousands of books and resources safely stored away, it provides an opportunity to find out a bit more about Malawi that perhaps many tourists don't ever discover. For more information about the society, please click here.

Visits can also be made to the Museum of Malawi and Carlsberg Brewery, which lie bewteen the two town centres, as well as the tobacco auction floors on the edge of Limbe. Both towns have a good range of shops, markets and services. Blantyre-Limbe has its own international airport at Chileka.

A large hotel nearby which provides top-class accommodation is the The Protea Hotel by Marriott Blantyre Ryalls. For a luxury B&B we have Leslie Lodge. Alternative lodge accommodation is offered by Fisherman's Rest, just a 20 minute drive to the south-west of Blantyre, overlooking the Lower Shire Valley. Leaving the city to the south quickly leads to the new Game Haven lodge, and on to Thyolo Tea Estate where you will find Huntingdon House, originally a family home built in 1928, now a lodge providing accommodation for up to 12 people.