The Grande Hotel da Beira was once the largest and most luxurious hotel on the African continent. Located on Mateus Sansão Muthemba Avenue, the hotel opened in 1955. Soon after opening, the hotel was awarded the Pride Of Africa title – it was unlike any form of hospitality Mozambique had ever seen.

Built over three floors, the building was true to its name, with giant hallways, restaurants, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, bars and a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. Yet despite high hopes for success, the Grande Hotel did not attract as much attention as expected and little profits were made. After eight years of business, it closed its doors.

During the civil war, it was used as an army base for a period of time, with certain areas used as a jail for political prisoners. The building then went on to host various parties and events, but it never resumed its role as a hotel.

On 31 December, 1980 the Grande Hotel hosted its last party and was abandoned.

Grande Hotel, Mozambique
Street businesses have grown up outside the Grande Hotel to the serve the masses who now squat thereFellipe Abreu

Since then, the Grande Hotel has gradually become occupied once more. It is now the fullest it has ever been and is currently at its maximum capacity of roughly 3,500 people. Photographer Fellipe Abreu visited the hotel, documenting its slow deterioration and observing the squatters who have created a community within its walls.

Grande Hotel, Mozambique
Youngsters make use of the hotel's unkept grounds for footballFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
A man fixes a bicycle alongside what once would have been an imposing staircaseFellipe Abreu

The hotel has now become dark and humid and, after 56 years since its inauguration, there has been little or no maintenance. Trees have tucked themselves around its curvaceous structure, stretching in from both sides, while a big popular market functions at its feet. Inside, there are severe infrastructure problems. Entire families are living in every area within the building, including the stairs. The sanitation is poor, due to the piles of rubbish that accumulate quickly due to its vast population. Pool water is now used for washing clothes and bathing and the hotel bar is now a urinal.

Grande Hotel, Mozambique
The appeal for families is obvious with massive rooms that can be fashioned to their needsFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
Boys push tyres in a huge foyer that has been left to ruinFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
Children play on the balconies that would have once advertised their stunning view of the Pacific occeanFellipe Abreu

There is only one section of the hotel that receives electricity, which is often used for the small "movie houses". Residents of all ages fill these rooms to watch films on a small television.

"This is the only place that still has electricity. Unfortunately, in the hotel there is no electricity and water," explains Carlos Nori, one of the local leaders.

Yet despite this, the Grande Hotel works under its own laws, and the sense of community is strong. There are local leaders, who are nominated by a residential vote, and council meetings are held every month to talk about any current problems the residents are facing. If violations of the rules occur, these will be discussed at the meetings.

Grande Hotel, Mozambique
Boys from the Grande Hotel community play football till the sun goes downFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
The hotel's once-impressive frontage stretched down to the occeanFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
Teenagers who have grown up in the squatting communityFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
The grand columns and ornate ceilings can now only be imaginedFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
Boys take their game of football down onto the beach that lies in front of the Grande HotelFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
The unlit and decayed areas of the building no longer faze a young childFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
Women go about washing clothes by makeshift murals that brighten the darkened wallsFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
An area a woman has made into a kitchen where she sits sorting grainsFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
A woman hangs washing outside the building's graffitied exteriorFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
A woman has set up a grocery stall inside the buildingFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
Squatters sort supplies at the entranceFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
An open walkway shows people squatting to its every sideFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
The football game is carried on across a platform that dissects its pathFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
Another stall has popped up in a darkened alcoveFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
A woman watches young children playing in a huge corridorFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
A walkway overlooks what would have once been a poolFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
A stall is positioned on the edge of the stairs between floorsFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
A whole community has grown up in the abandoned Grande HotelFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
Washing is hung in a disused area of the hotelFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
A little girl is dwarfed by her decaying surroundingsFellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel, Mozambique
Women descend the once-imposing staircase leading to the hotel's foyerFellipe Abreu