Malé, capital of Maldives – Image courtesy of Shahee Ilyas/Wikipedia Commons
Introducing Malé, Maldives
The small but busy capital of Maldives, Malé (pronounced MAHL-ee) has a laid-back charm with great shopping in the busy markets.
Stroll along the sea wall into the narrow lanes of the old quarter or head into the shady tree-lined streets of the residential area. In just a few hours you'll cover all the main sites: a good place to start is on the waterfront near the main square known locally as Jumhooree Maiden.
From here its an easy stroll past the fishing harbour – where colourful dhonis unload their catch – to the National Museum, Old Friday Mosque and the shopping boutiques along the northern end of Chaandhanee Magu.
Best buys include local handicrafts like seashell jewelry and carved replicas of the traditional Maldivian sailboats.
(Old Friday Mosque) – The country's oldest mosque (dating from 1656) is a masterpiece of coral carved with exquisite filigree designs. Inside are lamps and wooden prayer panels intricately carved with Arabic script.
As the mosque was built on the foundations of an old temple that faced west rather than northwest towards Mecca, worshippers must face the corner of the mosque when they pray - the carpet, laid at an angle, shows the correct direction.
Unlike most mosques in the Maldives, visitors are generally not allow inside. Instead, wander among the elaborately carved coral headstones in the cemetery nearby.
– Admire the former possessions of the sultan, including rich brocades and weapons, as well as pre-Islamic stone carvings collected from sites all over the country. The Museum is housed in a small, three-story building set in one corner of the Sultan's Park and is all that remains of the sultan's palace.
Location: Medhuziyaarai Magu, Malé
Cost: Adult/child under 12 – US$3/1
Hours: Sunday - Thursday, 8am-6pm, closed holidays