Historical Landmarks in Apia
The bustling capital of Samoa is where much of Samoa’s surviving colonial landmarks can be found. If you’re a sucker for political monuments, then Apia has memorials aplenty with the ones we list here in the best historical sites in Apia just scratching the surface. Nevertheless, due to ease and the pleasant side trip you can take to discover a cluster of historical sites, we’ve mostly listed the memorials, tombs and mausoleums on the Mulinuu Peninsula.
1. Apia Clock Tower
Standing in plain sight at Apia’s main roundabout on Beach Road, the Apia Clock Tower commemorates the Samoan soldiers that died during World War One. The clock was originally gifted to the town in the 1920s by the town’s most successful businessman, Ta’isi Olaf Nelson. Reading the plaque at the base of the clock tower, however, can be dangerous due to traffic, so check out the Falemata’aga, The Museum of Samoa to see the full text including the 60 names of those that died during the war. Learn more about the museum in the 5 Best Museums in Samoa.
Location: Beach Road roundabout, near the Government Building, Apia.
2. Malietoa Tomb and Afamasage Tomb
At the tip of the Mulinuu Pennisula is the beginning (or end) of a long line of monuments, memorials and commemorations of political figures gone by. The Malietoa Tomb of Tanumafili I and Malietoa Laupepa are the most elaborate with a fence and flower garden surrounding the tombs of two former heads of state. Semi-hidden around the back of this display closer to shore is the smaller grave of Afamasage.
Location: Northern tip of the Mulinuu Peninsula on the east side of Mulinuu Road.
3. 1962 Independence Memorial
Still on the eastern side of Mulinuu Road opposite the majestic Ministry of Justice Building is the almost as attention-grabbing 1962 Independence Memorial. This memorial commemorates when Samoa gained independence from New Zealand on 1 January 1962 with the words “Samoa is founded on God”. Learn more about Samoa’s journey to independence in A Brief History of Samoa.
Location: Opposite the Ministry of Justice Building, Mulinuu Peninsula on the east side of Mulinuu Road.
4. Mafata Mausoleum
A white dome-shaped mausoleum can be found on the western shore of the Mulinuu Peninsula, dedicated to Josefa Mata’afa. Mata’afa was the paramount chief supported by the Germans after they annexed Samoa in 1899. The construction is thought to be of German design, as it is not representative of Samoan traditional burial customs.
Location: Next to the Tofilau Eti Alesana Building on the Parliament Grounds of the Mulinuu Peninsula.
5. German Flag Memorial
A reminder of the German occupation of Samoa between 1899 and 1914, the German Flag Memorial is one of the more striking memorials on the Mulinuu Peninsula with a concrete fence and grassy clearing surrounding it. The flag memorial was erected in 1913 just one year before the New Zealand takeover of Samoa.
Location: Mulinuu Peninsula on the east side of Mulinuu Road, just south of the Parliament Grounds.
6. British and American Memorial
This gravestone-esque memorial on the Mulinuu Peninsula was erected in memory of the American and British naval officers that were killed during the Siege of Apia in 1899. The British and American warships were aiding Maleitoa Tanumafili I during the Second Samoan Civil War.
Location: Mulinuu Peninsula on the west side of Mulinuu Road, just south of the German Flag Memorial.
7. German Memorial
A memorial left by the Germans during their occupation of Samoa, the erect carved marble structure has easily stood the test of time. At the base of the memorial is the grave of Lieutenant Hans Sieger.
Location: Mulinuu Peninsula on the west side of Mulinuu Road, just south of the British and American Memorial.
8. Robert Louis Stevenson Museum and Tomb
The impeccably maintained grounds and villa of the famous author Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1895), who lived in Samoa for the remaining four years of his life, is a historical attraction on Upolu that you can still visit today. While “Villa Vailima” has had a few makeovers over the years, the home has been filled with replicas to represent what this classic colonial home once looked like. That’s not to say there aren’t a few original trinkets, books and personal belongings to admire while taking the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum tour.
Up the Tomb Track accessible on the grounds is also the Tomb of Robert Louis Stevenson, another historical site worth visiting in Apia.
Location: Signposted along Cross Island Road in the village of Avele, just south of Apia.
9. Aggie Grey’s Hotel
In 1942, the daughter of a British chemist and a Samoan villager saw an opportunity to build a hotel to cater to the American soldiers present in Apia during World War Two. The hotel of Agnes Genevieve Grey, who was affectionately known as Aggie Grey, became famous Pacific-wide as a social gathering place. Since then, she was known as Samoa’s most famous tourism pioneer until she died in 1988, and was even thought to have inspired “Bloody Mary” in James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. You can pick up her biography, Aggie Grey of Samoa, in the Nelson Memorial Public Library or on Amazon.
Location: Beach Road, on the east side of the Apia Harbour, Apia.
10. Immaculate Conception Cathedral
This striking cathedral overlooking the Apia Harbour might have been rebuilt since its original construction in 1884, but there’s no denying its majesty. The Immaculate Conception Cathedral boasts an ornate timber ceiling and vibrant stained-glass windows that can be admired at any time (as long as there is no event on) as the cathedral doors are usually left open. The reconstruction of the church is estimated to have cost ST$13 million, so give it a quick look for the love of funding!
Location: Beach Road opposite the Samoa Tourism Information Centre, Apia.
More About Historical Sites in Apia
Now that you know some of the fascinating historical sites in Apia, how about finding more through the following guides:
- 10 Best Historical Sites on Upolu
- 25 Best Things to Do in Apia
- 10 Best Churches in Samoa to Experience as a Visitor