KwaZulu Natal Tourist AttractionsThe Vasco Da Gama Memorial
In the heart of the Victoria Embankment (now known as Margaret Mncadi Avenue) stands the Vasco da Gama Clock, there to memorialise Vasco Da Gama's first sighting of Durban, which happened on the eve of Christmas in 1497 (Natal is derived from the Portuguese word for Christmas).
Where? Margaret Mncadi Avenue, Esplanade, Durban, KwaZulu Natal
When? Best during daylight hours
The Clock was given to the South Africans by the Portuguese government, where it originally stood in Point Road, before moving to the corner of the Embankment and Aliwal Street.
Most Durbanites hardly seem to notice the beautiful piece of architecture but the regal Victorian piece is well worth a second glance, its cast-iron, dome shape and intricate design a fine example of Victorian baroque design that almost resembles a very small wedding chapel.
Da Gama was the first person to discover Durban and the Portuguese were the first colonialists to come to the region. The clock was recently spruced up ahead of the World Cup, its restoration a necessity as the structure was already undergoing serious deterioration due mostly to the sea air that had begun to corrode the memorial. Restoring it meant dismantling and reassembling the clock.
Interestingly the clock, although Portuguese, was completed in a foundry in Britain and includes a statue of Samson in the process of breaking the ropes that bound him.