The soul of the Maldives
Malé welcomes visitors to the Maldives, a paradise of 26 natural atolls and approximately 1190 islands that offer an idyllic place to escape from it all, where a holiday means relaxing on sandy beaches, shaded by coconut palms, and bathing in the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean, and where the tropical climate means it is warm and sunny all year round.
Malé Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Avatar_023 / Shutterstock
The lively capital of Malé is the ideal place for exploring the true essence of the Maldives through its historic sites, culture, traditions and local cuisine. Located on the North Malé atoll, the city greets visitors and local residents to Republic Square with a giant Maldives flag and a small park where everyone gathers to socialise.
Islamic Centre and Mosque of Malé Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Shutterstock
Alongside the square is the general district of Maldivian institutions and the Islamic Centre, which opened in 1984. The Islamic Centre is a popular attraction for tourists, known for its excellent architecture fused with traditional Maldivian and Islamic concepts, with magnificent golden domes and, inside, intricate wood carvings and Arabic calligraphy. The Islamic Centre houses the largest mosque in the Maldives named after the country’s national hero Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al Auzam. It also has a conference hall, offices and an Islamic library.
Malé, Medhu Ziyaaraiy Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Shutterstock
The Hukuru Miskiy Mosque (former Friday Mosque) with its tall minaret is well worth a visit. It was built in 1659 using coral stones and is a historical building and testament to Maldivian craftsmanship which preserves beautiful wooden sculptures and lacquered items.
On the other side of the street, a short distance from the Friday Mosque, is the Medhu Ziyaaraiy Shrine with the tomb of Abul Barakaath Yusuf Al Barbary, a Moroccan scholar who, according to tradition, introduced Islam to the archipelago in 1153. Nearby is the Muliaage, an old presidential palace and current residence of the president.
Malé Copyright © Sisterscom.com / gg-foto / Shutterstock
In bustling Malé there are also various green areas and parks for walking among nature, such as the large, historic Sultan Park, renamed Rasrani Bageecha, which is located near the pier where tourists disembark. The park has been redesigned recently according to traditional Maldivian architecture and is a place of entertainment and cultural expression of the city with large trees and colourful flowers that create a welcoming atmosphere.
The National Museum, which opened in 1952 and was renovated in 2010, displays artefacts and an art collection from the pre- and post-Islamic periods. It also preserves clothing, royal items, ancient statues, Buddhist figurines, hand-written documents and Maldivian craft items. The city also hosts the Tsunami Monument, a steel structure of circles, which is dedicated to the victims of the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004.
Malé Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Jarung H / Shutterstock
No visit to Malé is complete without some shopping in the local stores and traditional markets. These include the Fish Market where the coloured boats of fishermen unload their catch and where anyone can buy fresh tuna, lobsters, crabs, squid, octopus and shellfish caught using sustainable techniques. Near the fish market is the local market, which sells fresh produce, seasonal fruit such as mangoes, coconuts, papaya, bananas and watermelons, as well as salads and vegetables.
Local market of Malé Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Andrea Izzotti / Shutterstock
Fish market of Malé Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Ivan Kurmyshov / Shutterstock
On the west coast of Malé there are many street vendors, open also at night, where visitors can stop to try local sweet or savoury food items flavoured with Indian spices and fresh coconut. Served in many restaurants, traditional Maldivian cuisine features simple, wholesome dishes such as Rihaakuru, a special fish paste made of tuna cooked in water with salt and spices and served with white rice and local tea called Saihotaa.
How to get to Malé and reach the islands of the Maldives
Idrovolanti alle Maldive - Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Shutterstock
Velana International Airport is located on the Island of Hulhule, two kilometers from the capital Malé. Fly to Maldives different airlines such as Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Turkish Airlines, British Airways, Alitalia, Air France, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and SriLankan Airlines but also charter flights. Hotels and resorts in the Maldives welcome their guests at the airport and take them to their islands or by boat or seaplane. Maldives, FlyMe and Manta Air operate domestic flights on several routes within the country. Among the seaplane operators such as Maldivian, Manta Air and Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) make connections to various locations in the external atolls.
The beaches of the Maldives
Beaches of Maldives - Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Shutterstock
The islands are formed from a base of white sand created by the erosion of the coral reefs and the action of the sea, but also by certain fish (parrotfish or titan triggerfish), which eat the coral and pass it in the form of sand with their faeces. Their maximum height above sea level is 2 metres and there are no sources of fresh water on most islands - only on larger islands can wells be dug to collect water filtered by the layers of sand. On the Island of Fua Mulaku there are freshwater lakes.
Text by Nicolò Villa
Avion Tourism Magazine
Photos: Sisterscom.com, Shutterstock
Photos: Sisterscom.com, Shutterstock
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Where to sleep in Malé
Malé is a welcoming city and offers different possibilities for accommodation.
To find the ideal hotel and the best offers you can do a search for the stars but also for atolls or landmarks.
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