Mbanza Congo, a city located in the northern part of Angola, the capital of Zaire province, was classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site on July 8, 2017.
Data released by UNESCO point to the city of Mbanza Kongo, as the political and spiritual capital of the Kingdom of Congo, one of the largest constituted states in southern Africa, from the 14th to the 19th century.
Centuries have passed but habits, customs, and traditions endure, as well as monuments and sacred sites. Part of the historic center is the ruins of Kulumbimbi, the Yala Nkuwu tree, the Súnguilo – a sacred place considered a traditional court, the former residence of the Kings of the Congo, transformed into a museum. Inside, there are objects that belonged to the monarchs who passed by and that were presented to them by the first Portuguese mission, as a way of fraternization.
It is at the foot of the Yala Nkuwu Sacred Tree where trials against social and spiritual transgressions continue to occur. The story goes that the founder of the kingdom of Congo Nimy-a-Luqueny, being a spiritual authority, when he arrived in that region, recognized in the tree the special power of foreshadowing good or bad things. And so it is today.
The Súnguilo is the sacred place where the remains of the Kings were prepared by handpicked women.
The Lumbo, that is, the Traditional Court, is the place destined to host traditional judgments. Installed in the yard of the Museum of the Kings of Congo, it was also classified as intangible heritage, due to the way it played a fundamental role in resolving conflicts within local communities.
It is in the Cemetery where the traditional authorities from the provinces of Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, and Gabon, still gather today for ceremonies in honor of the ancestors of the ancient Kingdom of Congo.
The Kulumbimbi Ruins have aroused the interest of the international scientific community for their unique architecture “. Kulumbimbi is the first church built in sub-Saharan Africa, by Catholic missionaries who were part of the first Portuguese expedition led by Diogo Cão when he arrived in Angola in 1482.
Day 1: Departure from Luanda heading north to M’banza Congo.
On the way, we will a stop for Lunch in Nzeto, a small provincial town.
Departure to M’banza Congo. Before heading to the hotel, we will make a panoramic tour to know the city and the surrounding area better and get the first information about the history.
Day 2: Kulumbimbi
Today we start our tour with the famous Kulumbimbi. The Cathedral of the Holy Savior (São Salvador) built-in 1549, and the associated old town have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2017. Afterward, we visit the Museum of the Kingdom of the Congo, the Yala Knuwu (holy tree), Sungilu (place associated with the funeral ceremonies of the kings), and the church Nossa Sra. da Conceição.
Later in the day, we visit the N´zau Evua caves in the Nkiende region. In the colonial past, they served as a refuge for fighters against foreign occupiers.
Return to Mbanza Congo.
Day 3: Departure
After breakfast departure to Luanda.