Colonial Houses in Mauritius

Colonial Houses in Mauritius.

Mauritius hosts a captivating and diverse history that is magnificently reflected in its architecture. Among the most emblematic elements of this rich and varied heritage are the colonial houses, elegant witnesses to a bygone era. More than mere constructions, these houses represent a rich architectural heritage, where each column, each veranda, tells a beautiful story of cultural and multi racial exchange. Imbued with an aura of history, these homes were shaped by the successive influences of the Dutch, French and British, creating a colonial style unique to Mauritius. Let's discover the evolution of these architectural treasures, which continue to inspire admiration for their timeless elegance and invaluable contribution to the Mauritian identity.
  • The Dutch era (1598-1710)
The earliest European presence on the island was established by the Dutch, who landed in 1598. During their brief stay, they built rudimentary structures using readily available materials. These early dwellings were simple, one-storey wooden constructions that reflected the utilitarian needs of the time. Thatched roofs were common, providing shelter from the tropical elements.
  • French colonial influence (1715-1810)
The French, led by Governor Mahé de Labourdonnais, took control of the island in 1715. The French brought a more sophisticated architectural influence, and their legacy is still visible in some of the island's historic houses. French colonial houses were often built in stone or brick, with tiled roofs. They were characterized by spacious verandas and shuttered windows, offering a touch of elegance and protection from the tropical sun and heavy rain.
  • British colonial period (1810-1968)
The British took control of Mauritius after the Battle of Vieux Grand Port in 1810. Under British rule, the architecture of colonial houses evolved. Houses were often built of wood with tin roofs, and verandas became more elaborate. Many were built on huge sugar plantations, incorporating features such as extensive gardens and spacious interiors. The influence of British colonial architecture is particularly pronounced in the Plaines Wilhems and Pamplemousses regions.
  • Creole influence
Over the ages, a distinct form of architecture known as "Creole" has emerged in Mauritius, resulting from a blend of European, African, and Asian influences. Creole houses combined elements of different colonial influences and incorporated local materials and techniques. These structures often featured steep roofs, decorative wooden patterns, and bright colour schemes. Creole houses are renowned for their adaptability to the island's climate, with high ceilings and natural ventilation.
  • Modern times and preservation efforts
In recent decades, despite the construction of several contemporary buildings, many modern real estate projects (hotels, shopping centres, residences) pay homage to bygone eras by continuing to draw inspiration from colonial architecture. In addition, a growing interest in preserving and restoring the island's colonial heritage has led to the conservation of historic houses by transforming them into museums, hotels, or cultural centres, giving visitors the chance to discover the charm and history of these architectural treasures.
  • Conclusion
The history of colonial houses in Mauritius is a testament to the island's rich and diverse history. Each colonial era brought its own unique architectural influences, leaving behind a mosaic of styles that can still be seen today. From the modest wooden huts of the Dutch to the elegance of French and British colonial houses, these structures offer a glimpse into the complexity of Mauritius's history and cultural heritage. Preservation efforts ensure that this architectural heritage continues to be celebrated and cherished for generations to come.
  • Places to visit
Maison Eurêka in Moka, a listed historic site in Mauritius, was built in 1830 and owned by French and British aristocrats in the 19th century. Eureka House Château de Labourdonnais, based in the north of the island was built in 1856. Domaine de Labourdonnais