The unknown Ivory Coast – A Luxury Travel Blog
For years, Ivory Coast was an unsafe destination. After the declaration of independence in 1960, the country went through two civil wars. Things remained unsettled until 2011, when the losing president Ggagbo was arrested and extradited to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Tourism is now slowly starting to take off. Mid-November, I made a journey through this – to me still unknown – West African country.
Abidjan & Grand-Bassam
After arriving at the airport of Abidjan, I immediately travel to Grand-Bassam, 45 minutes away, which was chosen as the capital during the colonization by the French. And just like that you suddenly find yourself eating outside in the evening on a terrace with the sparkling Atlantic Ocean at your feet! What a transition from the gray and rainy Netherlands and Belgium I left in the morning.
The colonial quarter in Grand-Bassam is now a Unesco World heritage site: the grandeur of the colonial architecture is still impressive although many buildings are in need of restoration. The Museum of National Costume, which displays traditional clothing of the country’s many ethnic groups, is also very interesting.
The next day, I head to Yamoussoukro, the birthplace of the first president of the Ivory Coast, Félix Houphouët-Boigny. He made his birthplace the capital of the country and had a huge prestige project built there: the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Paix, which equals the size of the St. Peter in Rome. It is a strange perception, such an immense building in an empty landscape without believers, completely soulless. You wonder how many hospitals the president could have built instead…
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