Historical Places in Tonga

Tonga has an interesting and colourful history of kings, colonisation, tribes and encounters from the other side of the world. To commemorate some of these key points in Tonga’s history, plaques and memorials can be found in historically significant places across the islands of Tongatapu and Ha’apai, while strange megaliths and ancient tombs also stand as historical places of interest. Check out some of the historical sites in Tonga that you can visit, written in the list below.

1. Ha’amonga ‘a Maui

The most iconic historical site in Tonga is arguably the Ha’amonga ‘a Maui. This ancient coral stone trilithon was said to be constructed in the 13th Centuary under the rule of Tu’i Tonga Tu’itatui, one of Tonga’s early kings. Interpretation panels at the site in Niutoua explain the historical theories behind the megalith’s construction, while a short walk behind the trilithon, you can check out Maka Faakinanga or the “leaning stone”.

Location: Niutoua, Tongatapu

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga

(c) tongapocketguide.com

2. Velata Mound Fortress

Check out an example of a traditional ditch fortification that was used throughout the South Pacific from the 15th to the 19th Century at the Velata Mound Fortress in Ha’apai. Located in the village of Hihifo on the island of Lifuka, the Velata Mound Fortress is indicated by a plaque explaining the history, as well as a sign with an aerial diagram of the fortress. Also nearby is the historical site of Olovehi Tomb. Learn more about its exact location and other historical places nearby in the 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do in Ha’apai.

Location: Hihifo, Ha’apai

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga

(c) tongapocketguide.com

3. Papae ‘o Telea Royal Tomb

Ancient tombs are the most frequent historical site you can find in Tonga, with some of the most famous being the Papae ‘o Telea royal tombs. In the village of Mu’a in Tongatapu, the Papae ‘o Telea are examples of just two of around 28 royal tombs found in the area, each in a pyramid-like stone memorial. One of the tombs is of Tele’a, a king (Tu’i Tonga) who reigned during the 16th Century. Check out more sights around Tonga’s main island in the 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do on Tongatapu.

Location: Mu’a, Tongatapu

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga

(c) tongapocketguide.com

4. Abel Tasman Landing Site

When it comes to landmarks for where the first Europeans landed in Tonga, Tongatapu has you sorted, starting with the Abel Tasman Landing Site in on the northwestern tip of the island. An information panel at the site tells about the first encounter between the Tongan people and the Dutch explorer’s crew, while a plaque is also in place to commemorate the occasion that occurred on the 21 January 1643.

Location: Ha’atafu, Tongatapu

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga

(c) tongapocketguide.com

5. Captain Cook Landing Site

And on the edge of the Fanga’utu Lagoon, near the village of Mu’a in Tongatapu, is the landing site of British Explorer Captain James Cook. A plaque is in the place where a banyan tree once stood to commemorate the occasion that took place in 1777, as well as when Queen Elizabeth II visited the landmark in 1970.

Location: Mu’a, Tongatapu

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga

(c) tongapocketguide.com

6. Royal Palace

An iconic structure on the waterfront of the nation’s capital, Nuku’alofa, the Royal Palace stands as a symbol of the Kingdom of Tonga. The palace is made of kauri timber and was built in 1864 for King George Tupou I. To this day, it remains the residence of the royal family. Check out more attractions to visit in the city in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Nuku’alofa.

Location: Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga

(c) tongapocketguide.com

7. Christianity Landing Site

To commemorate the arrival of the Christian religion on Fongolua Beach with the landing of pioneering missionaries, Rev. John Thomas and Rev. John Hutchinson, there is a plaque in a grassy clearing just a short drive/walk south of the Abel Tasman Landing Site in Ha’atafu. The plaque memorial is a testament to the arrival of Christianity to Tonga over 180 years ago. The plaque tells the story of the arrival of the missionaries in English on one side and Tongan on the other.

Location: Ha’atafu, Tongatapu

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga

(c) tongapocketguide.com

8. Mala’ekula Royal Tombs

Impossible to miss in a large grassy clearing in the centre of Nuku’alofa, the Royal Tombs are the burial grounds of the Royal House of Tupou dating back to the first in the Tupou line, King Taufa’ahau Tupou I who died in 1893. While the historical site is fenced off to the public, visitors can read about its significance on various interpretation panels around the perimeter.

Location: Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga

(c) tongapocketguide.com

9. Port Au Prince Memorial

Visit a monument just north of the airport runway in Lifuka, Ha’apai, to see the place where the captain and around half of the crew of the Port au Prince were massacred on 26 November 1806.  The ship was a French ship, captured by the British and made into a privateer. It was the ship that William Mariner arrived in, who was an English writer who lived with Tongans for four years and gave a detailed account in The Tongan Islands, William Mariner’s account.

Location: Lifuka, Ha’apai

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga

(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

10. Shirley Baker Monument

Finally, another historical site to see in Ha’apai is the Shirley Baker Monument and the European Cemetary. Among the cemetery of 19th and 20th-Century European traders and missionaries, the grave and monumental plaque for the Rev. Shirley Baker can be found. He was Tonga’s first prime minister and advisor to King Tupou I. Also, opposite the site, is a Tongan cemetery decorated with sand and coral mounds.

Location: Pangai, Ha’apai

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga

(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

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