The archipelago’s largest city, is considered as one of the most important political, economic and social hubs of the country
Moroni, the capital of the Union of the Comoros and the archipelago’s largest city, is considered as one of the most important political, economic and social hubs of the country. Located on the western coast of the Grande Comore island (also known as N’gazidja), Moroni is home for more than 65000 inhabitants and many Islamic and civilizational monuments. Though it became a capital of the Comoros only in 1962, it has preserved a major part of its long historical legacy inherited from the Sultans era. As a coastal city, Moroni has been a constant destination for migration flows; hence its special historical significance. Moroni population contributed to spreading awareness among all cities and villages of the Union of the Comoros and the city is the country’s political, economic, commercial, tourist and administrative capital.
Major civilizational landmarks of Moroni:
Moroni is home for many mosques and buildings dating back to the era of the Sultans who ruled the city. The ancient entrances of those monuments still show their authentic engravings, particularly in traditional homes in Irungudjani and Bacha districts where the Sultans used to set their courts.
Most of these buildings have been transformed into shops and snacks, while others serve as public spaces where traditional entertainments such as card games, domino and dice are practiced. In the eastern side of the city, there stretches a series of stores, traditional clothing bazaars and jewelry boutiques. The traditional marketplace, which is located in front of these shops, bursts with trade activities practiced by salesmen from the different provinces of the archipelago. In the north, a Chinese firm has built the huge Volo Volo market known for its crowdedness and traffic jams on the roads leading to it. The Volo Volo contains grocery stores offering a wide variety of crops, vegetables, fruits, meat and fish, in addition to with men’s and women’s ready-to-wear boutiques. A third market, just as crowded as the Volo Volo market, was recently inaugurated in the Charma District by the N’gazidja local government.
The National Center for Documentation and Scientific Research stands in the city center, facing the France Plaza with its banks and its famous restaurant “Le Sélect”. The Center is considered as a repository of the Comoro culture. It includes a museum, a library, a bookshop exhibiting publications on the Comoros and an audiovisual center for the production of documentaries on the geography and history of the Archipelago. The history wing in the museum showcases the Comoros’ traditions and natural environment.
The wing devoted to history features archaeological objects and pottery items dating back to the 19th Century.
On display are also some ancient handicraft tools of the ancient inhabitants of these islands. Old copies of the Holy Quran, portraits dating back to the 19th century of the sultans and kings who ruled this country, along with other tools, musical instruments, house furniture and rare manuscripts attest to the colorful and rich history of this country.
Another wing of the museum, which is dedicated to the natural environment of the islands, exhibits a beautiful collection of birds, butterflies, fish and flora, including plants used in the Comorian traditional medicine. In that wing, visitors are presented also with a chronology of the Karthala volcano’s eruptions.
The future of the capital
The city is witnessing an urban and demographic boom. The headquarters of the different ministries stretch across the city’s streets, particularly along a one-way avenue leading to the famous hospital of the capital and the Volo Volo market. In the northern part of the island, where Prince Said Ibrahim International Airport (formerly Hahaya Airport) is based, the Corniche Avenue stretches in parallel to the sea shore and ends near the Presidential Palace, the faculty of Imam Shafi’i, University of the Comoros and a harbor where fishermen used to build outrigger canoes. The Corniche Avenue is famous for its modern buildings, hotels, tennis courts and the headquarters of the Franco-Comorian cultural centre. Moroni also hosts ISESCO Delegation to the Comoros which was established in 1987.
Moroni is witnessing urban development operations as part of its compressive plan to rehabilitate its districts and streets, particularly after its election by ISESCO as the African region’s Islamic Culture Capital for 2010.