Skip to content

Tag: Unesco World Heritage Site

Dakar’s Islands : Île de Gorée

IMG_7890

Dakar is surrounded by three beautiful islands; to the west of the city is the Îles des Madeleines nature reserve, to the north lies Ngor, a go-to spot for surfers, and finally to the east is Gorée, a Unesco World Heritage Site which houses the Maison des Esclaves (House of Slaves), a museum and memorial to the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Gorée wasn’t one of the principal centres for the slave trade in West Africa, but the Maison des Esclaves has become the most famous symbol of this time.

IMG_7964

It’s a truly emotive experience to see the place where thousands of people torn from their communities and families waited – in unimaginable conditions – to face a perilous journey across the ocean into a life of servitude, and one which no trip to Dakar is complete without.

Portal_of_sorrow-senegal-01
The ‘Door of No Return’ which was the final exit point of slaves from Africa to the Americas. (Photo by The Wandering Angel)

But after this dark period in it’s history, Gorée has become a centre for architectural beauty, artistic endeavour and educational excellence.

`

IMG_7986

IMG_7910

Away from the main tourist area, you can wander Gorée’s streets in relative solitude, and discover hidden alleyways, striking colonial architecture, and bougainvillea-clad buildings.

IMG_7914

IMG_8024

Wide baobab-lined avenues are given over to impromptu art displays, and artisans produce beautiful objects in the numerous studios and workshops dotted around the island.

IMG_7895

A calm and sheltered bay provides an excellent swimming spot, or just a place to dip your toes in the water while you wait for the ferry back to the mainland.

IMG_8041

IMG_8027

IMG_7904

The Island is also home to the Maison d’Education Mariama Ba, a top boarding school for girls which was founded in the 1970’s by Leopold Senghor, the first president of Senegal.

Each year, it admits twenty-five girls from across the country on the basis of outstanding achievement in their national secondary school exams, and puts them on a path to a bright future – surely the best tribute to all those who were denied their freedoms in times gone by.

IMG_8023

Gorée is small, but each time I go there I discover something new – an artist’s studio, a secret courtyard, an intriguing doorway into an ancient mariner’s drinking spot. There’s always a new story waiting around every corner of this island’s cobbled streets; a whisper from the past, or a glimpse into a promising future.

2 Comments

Snapshots of Saint-Louis

Often described as one of the most intensely atmospheric places in West Africa, The tiny city-island of Saint-Louis sits in the middle of the Senegal River near it’s opening to the Atlantic.

Saint Louis (1)

Saint Louis (6)

Saint Louis (3)

Saint Louis (2)

Saint Louis (4)

Ornate bougainvillea-clad balconies, crumbling ochre-hued buildings, and a myriad of little passages and beautiful secret courtyards are packed into a miniscule 2 kilometre long, 400 metre wide space.

Saint Louis (8)

Saint Louis (9)

Saint Louis (7)

Saint Louis (5)

Saint Louis (11)

It has a fascinating history as the capital of French West Africa, a title it held until 1902. These days, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to one of the best jazz festivals in Africa.

1 Comment