Once called the “Pride of Africa”, the Grande Hotel in the coastal city of Beira was designed to be one of the most prestigious hotels on the African continent. Built in Art Deco style in 1954, showcasing Portuguese colonialism, the hotel offered 122 luxurious rooms, an Olympic swimming pool, restaurants, a foyer with two grand staircases and even a post office.
But the hotel was never able to attract many visitors. The high maintenance costs forced it to close to guests in 1963 and was then only used for big events and parties. When in the 70s the civil war started, the hotel served as a military base and held political prisoners. During the next decade, the hotel was completely abandoned. It was looted and stripped till only a concrete carcass remained. People, especially those fleeing the conflict, moved into the building.
Some of the families have been living in the hotel, which is now also called “The vertical slum of Beira”, for three generations. More than 3500 people squat in every section of the dark, humid structure and the once big spaces are divided with makeshift walls. At the base of the building years of rubbish have accumulated. Due to the lack of maintenance and nature reclaiming the building, the stability of the building is threatened and can collapse at any moment.
For the prevention of coronavirus a team from Beira Municipal Council sprayed the whole hotel surface of 21,000 m2 (230,000 sq ft) as well as other neighbourhoods with high population density.