Mbanza Kongo, Vestiges of the Capital of the former Kingdom of Kongo
The town of Mbanza Kongo, located on a plateau at an altitude of 570 m, was the political and spiritual capital of the Kingdom of Kongo, one of the largest constituted states in Southern Africa from the 14th to 19th centuries. The historical area grew around the royal residence, the customary court and the holy tree, as well as the royal funeral places.
When the Portuguese arrived in the 15th century they added stone buildings constructed in accordance with European methods to the existing urban conurbation built in local materials. Mbanza Kongo illustrates, more than anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa, the profound changes caused by the introduction of Christianity and the arrival of the Portuguese into Central Africa.
The name of Kongo became from the founders of the kingdom was KiKongo speaking people. The introduction of Congo name became from the portuguese contact with the kingdom. One of the oldest vestiges of portuguese conquer is this catholic cathedral.
The project “Mbanza Congo, city to be unearthed to preserve”, which had as its main purpose the inscription of this capital of the former Kingdom of Congo, founded in the 13th century.
Angola’s candidacy highlighted that the Kingdom of Congo was perfectly organized when the Portuguese arrived, in the 15th century, one of the most advanced in Africa at the time.
The classified area involves a set whose limits cover a hill at an altitude of 570 meters and extends over six corridors. It includes ruins and spaces that have been subject to excavations and archaeological studies, which involved national and foreign specialists.
Catholic influence in Africa
The archaeological work carried out at the site involved measuring the foundation of stones discovered at the site called “Tadi dia Bukukua”, supposedly the former royal palace.
They also went through the survey of the Catholic mission, the house of the king’s secretary, the tomb of Dona Mpolo (mother of King Dom Afonso I, buried alive for disobedience to the laws of the court) and the cemetery of the kings of the former Kingdom of Congo.
Divided into six provinces that occupied part of the current Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Angola and Gabon, the Kingdom of Congo had 12 churches, convents, schools, palaces and residences.