Victoria has been the capital city of Seychelles since 1841 and Seychelles gained its independence in 1976, after centuries of colonial rule. With a tropical climate and pleasant trade winds that keep the temperature comfortable without being too hot, Victoria is Seychelles' largest city. It attracts many visitors who want to enjoy shopping, sight-seeing and immersing themselves in the country's rich cultural heritage.
Seychelles and Victoria have a colourful and fascinating history. Traders and explorers from Asia and Africa first visited the islands in the 15th century, using them as a stop-over point. The first European to see the islands is believed to have been Admiral Vasco de Gama of Portugal, during his explorations of the Indian Ocean and African continent in 1502.
In 1756, the islands were claimed by French sea captain, Corneille Nicolas Morphy, at the location of present day Victoria. They were named after Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Minister of Finance to King Louis XV. The French formally colonised the islands in 1772.
Following the Napoleonic Wars, Great Britain gained control in 1810 through the Treaty of Paris and in 1841, the city was named Victoria in honour of Queen Victoria. Decades of colonial rule followed, until 1976 when Seychelles finally gained its independence.
Victoria is the main shipping, tourist and commercial centre of Seychelles. After a major construction effort, the port of Victoria was opened in 1975 to accommodate larger ships and to increase turnaround. Its main exports today are fish, coconuts, coconut oil and the fertiliser guano.
Tourism remains the major source of Victoria’s economy, thanks to its stunning beaches, clear ocean waters and an Aladdin’s cave of visitor attractions.
Places of interest
With its intriguing attractions, Victoria is one of the world's top visitor destinations. A true jewel in the Indian Ocean crown the bustling market, attractive colonial buildings and picturesque botanical gardens set against a backdrop of rolling lush green hills secure its place in the hearts of visitors from all over the world.
Showcasing a huge selection of exotic, endemic and mature plants, the National Botanical Gardens were established more than 100 years ago. Spanning over more than five acres, they include fruit trees and spices and an orchid house boasting a kaleidoscope of scented blossoms. The Seychelles' famous giant tortoises can also be seen in their natural habitat.
The bustling Sir Selwyn Clarke market is colourful and busy, continuing to be the best place to shop for fresh fruit, vegetables, spices and fish. Souvenir shops and boutiques line the adjacent streets and Saturday mornings are particularly lively.
Another popular attraction, the Victoria Clock Tower remains almost unchanged since it was built in 1897. With its elegant carved doors and multi-coloured light shining through elaborate stained-glass windows, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception dates from 1851.
Victoria is only 4.5km from one of the best resorts in Seychelles, Savoy Resort and Spa, which is approximately 11 minutes by road. What a wonderful way to soak up some local culture!