Idea #672 – Visiting the historic districts of Saint Louis in Senegal
First French trading post on the Atlantic coast of Africa in 1659, the Île de Saint-Louis was a hub for European merchants traveling the river year-round in search of slaves, but also gum arabic, gold, hides and other products. The small ocean city will be the political capital of the colony and French West Africa (AOF) until 1902, and capital of Senegal and Mauritania until 1957, before declining due to the transfer of the capital in Dakar. The historic city of Saint-Louis exerted a predominant influence on the regions of Africa under French domination, and even further, in terms of architecture but also with regard to education, culture, craftsmanship and services . It was, as such, the first laboratory of this new differential society made of crossbreeding and hybridization and which will be a crucible for the elaboration and dissemination of a cultural synthesis and an awakening to citizenship for all AOF, thus contributing to the birth of a new humanism.
The island, connected to the land by the Faidherbe bridge, is divided into three parts: the northern district, the southern district and the place Faidherbe with the Palace of Governance in the center. The island is enclosed in a system of docks that serve as a reference for all streets on the east-west axis. With its military-style fortin, the government hotel is the orthogonal center of a perfectly regular urban plan. The magnificent “houses with balconies”, the “gallery houses” of the beautiful Signares and the few “Portuguese low houses” give the old town its aesthetic quality and identity. The majestic Faidherbe Bridge, whose spans were imported from France in 1897, has not changed the urban fabric. The fishing district, immersed in the smell of fish, with its hundreds of colorful boats, offers an unforgettable and authentic view. Thanks to its regular plan, its platform system and its high-quality architecture, the Île de Saint-Louis is a remarkable example of a colonial city whose stylistic unity and urban homogeneity is based on typologies and principles of planning. inherited from the colonial administration. The city is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Where is it ?
Île Saint Louis, Sénégal