7 Heritage Sites To See In Senegal

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7 Heritage Sites To See In Senegal

Date: Feb 1, 2023
Author: Collins.cidar 843 No Comments

From the rolling sandy plains of the western Sahel landscape which rises to the foothills in the southwest to the cap vert (“Cape Green”) where lies the capital, Dakar, Senegal is a country in west Africa Bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast and Guinea Bissau to the Southwest. Come! Let’s take a journey to the west side, the country where the griots have kept west Africa’s heritage through storytelling and music. Camped around a bonfire, elders would tell stories that sounded like myths but with a taste of truth. You can also explore the beautiful capital city of Dakar as you visit the presidential palace building surrounded by a luscious garden with exotic flowers. One can drive through Soweto square to see the National Assembly and the major Museum, which houses an amazing collection of Senegalese artifacts. The official language is French but the diversity of language structures cut across Arabic, Balanta, Jola-Fonyi, Mandinka, Mandjak, Noom etc. why would you want to visit the wonder in west Africa? The answer lies in the exotic landscape and the beautiful beaches on the southern coast of the country. With ample sunlight that tans the skins, it is a true definition of relaxation under the soft, heated ambience of the African sun.

Archeological findings throughout the area indicate that Senegal was inhabited in prehistoric times, many of the footprints still in existence today. Fast forward to the early days of slavery, the Island of Goree was once a famous destination for Africa’s Slave traders. Most of the slaves exported to America. Ancient strongholds are still standing today. Tourist can experience first-hand, the journey and imagine the adventures of slaves and their masters in the olden days. While on the tiny island, travelers can visit the town square, the historical museum, and the many local artisan shops displaying a variety of paintings and handmade crafts. Over the years, the country has transformed itself from a stagnant low level economy to an eco-friendly tourism destination with landmark sites set across every part of the country. With an average annual visit of over 90%, it’s safe to note that perception has changed. Looking to enjoy some wife life views? Visitors can explore the Niokolo-koba National park located in the south-eastern part of Senegal. With a pool of biodiversity, Niokolo-Koba is a visitor’s delight.

All of these are put in place to foster regenerative travel and boost revenue generation. It’s important to note that there are interactions put in place to help millennials understand the very history that the country protrudes; in turn resonating deep change of thoughts and mind set. The stone circles of Senegambia are a typical example of ancient mysteries. Archeologists have determined that they have been around since the 3rd century BC and 16th Century AD. There are many things to embrace and experience in Senegal and the choices are limitless for responsible travelers who want to visit west Africa. We have taking our time to curate places you would visit in Senegal in the list below.

Megalithic Circles of Senegambia

Megalithic Circles of Senegambia/Photographer:Niels Broekzitter/Flickr

The inscribed site corresponds to four large groups of megalithic circles located in the far west of West Africa, between the Gambia River and the Senegal River. These sites, Wassu and Kerbatch in The Gambia, and Wanar and Sine Ngayène in Senegal, are part of an extraordinary concentration of more than 1000 stone circles and related burial mounds scattered over a territory 100 km wide by 350 km long, located along the Gambia River. Together the four groups comprise 93 circles and associated sites, some of which have been excavated and have revealed human burials and archaeological material ranging from pottery to iron implements and ornamentation dating between the 1st and 2nd millennia and the beginning of our era. 

The Sine Ngayène complex (Senegal) is the largest site in the area. It includes 52 circles of standing stones, including a double circle. In total, there are 1102 cut stones on the site. About 1 km to the east (outside the property) is the quarry from which the monoliths were extracted and where traces of the extraction of about 150 stones have been found. The site was excavated around 1970 and more recently by Bocoum and Holl. The work established that the single burials seemed to predate in time the multiple burials associated with the stone circles. The Wanar complex (Senegal) comprises 21 circles including a double circle. The site contains 9 “lyre” stones or “bifid” stones, sometimes including a piece placed as a spacer between the two parts. The Wassu complex (Gambia) comprises 11 circles and their associated headstones. This site has the tallest stones in the area. The most recent excavations carried out on these megalithic circles date from the Anglo-Gambian campaign led by Evans and Ozanne in 1964 and 1965. The discoveries of the burials made it possible to date the monuments between 927 and 1305 AD. J.-C. The complex of Kerbatch comprises 9 circles, including a double. The site has a “bifid” stone, the only one known in the area. The Kerbatch complex has 9 circles, including a double one. The site has a “bifid” stone, the only one known in the area. The Kerbatch complex has 9 circles, including a double one. The site has a “bifid” stone, the only one known in the area.

The stones forming the circles were quarried from nearby laterite quarries using iron tools and skilfully cut into almost identical columns of either cylindrical or polygonal section, averaging 2 m in height and weighing up to 7 tons. Each circle includes between 8 and 14 standing stones for a diameter of 4 to 6 m. The four inscribed megalithic sites testify to a highly organized and prosperous society whose traditions of building stone circles, associated with burials, seem to have persisted in some areas for more than a millennium.

Saloum Delta

Saloum Delta/Photographer: michael_jeddah/Flickr

The region of the Saloum delta bears remarkable witness to the synergy between a natural environment of great biodiversity and a mode of human development that is still present although fragile. Sustainable practices of collecting shellfish and fishing in brackish waters, processing these harvests for conservation and exporting them have developed there. Shell middens and tumulus middens form specific and exceptional cultural landscapes.

The many shell middens in the Saloum delta are generally well preserved and sometimes have impressive dimensions. They bear direct witness to long-lasting and very old socio-economic practices. Over the centuries, they have made it possible to form numerous artificial islets contributing to the stabilization of the land and the waterways of the delta. With their characteristic vegetation within the natural environment of the delta, the shell mounds form typical cultural landscapes. Some mounds contain tumuli; they form, with their baobab vegetation and their hilly forms, funerary sites with specific landscapes.

Goree Island

Goree Island/Photographer : Zara and the Realm of Light/ Flickr

The Island of Gorée bears witness to a human experience without precedent in the history of peoples. Indeed, this “memory island” is for the universal conscience the symbol of the slave trade with its procession of suffering, tears and death.

This small island of 28 ha located 3.5 km off the coast of Dakar crystallizes the painful memories of the Atlantic slave trade. This singular destiny, Gorée owes it to its geographical position of extreme centrality between the North and the South, and to its excellent strategic position offering a safe shelter for the anchorage of ships, hence its name “Good Rade”. As a result, it has been, since the 15th century, a stake between various European nations which have successively used it as a stopover or as a slave market. The first culmination point of the “homeoducts” which drained slaves from the hinterland, Gorée was at the heart of rivalries between European nations for control of the slave trade.

Until the abolition of the latter in the French colonies, the island was a warehouse made up of more than a dozen slaveries. Among the tangible elements that testify to the universal value of Gorée we find in particular the Castel, a rocky plateau covered with fortifications which dominates the island; the Relais de l’Espadon, former residence of the French governor; etc….

The island of Gorée is today a land of pilgrimage for the entire African diaspora, a focus of contact between the West and Africa and a space for exchange and dialogue of cultures through the confrontation of the ideals of reconciliation. and forgiveness.

Island of St. Louis

Island of St. Louis/photographer:Gabriel de Castelaze/Flickr

The Island of Saint-Louis, ocean gateway to West Africa, is a unique landscape. Indeed, this tiny strip of land, today inserted between the two arms of the mouth of the Senegal River, enjoys an exceptional environment, a subtle marriage between a land and river landscape.

First French trading post on the Atlantic coast of Africa in 1659, the Island of Saint-Louis was a hub for European traders going up the river all year round in search of slaves, but also gum arabic, gold, skins and other products. The small ocean city will be the political capital of the colony and of French West Africa (AOF) until 1902, and capital of Senegal and Mauritania until 1957, before falling into decline due to the transfer of the capital in Dakar.

The historic city of Saint-Louis exercised a preponderant influence on the regions of Africa under French domination, and even further, in terms of architecture but also with regard to education, culture, crafts and services. . It was, as such, the first laboratory of this new differential society made of interbreeding and hybridizations and which will be a crucible for the development and dissemination of a cultural synthesis and an awakening to citizenship for all AOF, thus contributing to the birth of a new humanism.

The designated property covers the entire area of ​​the island of Saint-Louis , including the banks and quays, as well as the Faidherbe bridge. The island is divided into three parts: the North district, the South district and Place Faidherbe with the Palais de la Gouvernance in the centre. The island is enclosed in a system of quays which serve as a reference for all the streets on the east-west axis. With its fortified military style, the government building (built on the old fort of the city) constitutes the orthogonal center of a perfectly regular urban plan. The magnificent “balcony houses”, the “gallery houses” of the beautiful Signares as well as the rare “Portuguese low houses” give the old town its aesthetic quality and identity. The majestic Pont Faidherbe, whose spans were imported from France in spare parts in 1897, has in no way modified the urban fabric. Thanks to its regular plan, its platform system and its high-quality architecture,

Bassari country: Bassari, Peul and Bédik cultural landscapes

Bassari country: Bassari, Peul and Bédik cultural landscapes/Sébastien Moriset
Copyright: © Sébastien Moriset/UNESCO

The Bassari Cultural Landscape is located in southeastern Senegal, near the borders with Mali and Guinea, in a hilly region formed by the northern foothills of the Fouta Djalon massif. The landscape comprises two distinct geographical environments: the alluvial plain and the peneplain in the north and the mountains in the south. The first is covered with a mosaic of cultivated plots, grasslands and wooded savannah, the second, relatively high and steep, dotted with natural caves, has provided an environment particularly conducive to the establishment of different cultural groups and their defense . Archaeological remains testify to the ancient human occupation of the region. The property comprises three different geocultural areas: the Bassari – Salemata region, the Bedik – Bandafassi region and the Peul – Dindéfello region, each with specific cultural and morphological traits. In this region that is not very accessible but rich in natural resources and biodiversity, the Bassari, Peul and Bédik peoples have settled and developed specific cultures, living in symbiosis with the natural environment. Their economy has long been based on subsistence agriculture and animal husbandry. Until the last century, villages were grouped together and located on high ground to control the plains, and consisted of circular thatched huts gathered around a central space. Today, dispersal and transience are the main features of Bassari settlements, with people choosing to live near the fields.

The property and its associated cultural expressions bear exceptional testimony to the cultural specificity and interaction between the Bassari/Beliyan, Bedick and Fulani peoples in their agro-pastoral, social, ritual and spiritual practices, and represent an exceptional and original response constraints imposed by the environment and anthropogenic pressures in order to rationally use the limited resources of the area.

Djoudj National Bird Park

Djoudj National Bird Park/Photographer: IUCNweb/ Flickr

In the Senegal River Delta, the Djoudj National Park is a 16,000ha wetland comprising an ecosystem that hosts more than one and a half million migratory birds. Composed of lakes surrounded by watercourses, the property constitutes a vital, but fragile, sanctuary for species such as the white pelican, the African spoonbill, the cormorant, the flamingo and the great egret.

Niokolo-Koba National Park

Niokolo-Koba National Park/Photographer: Jurgen/Flickr

Located in the Sudano-Guinean zone, the Niokolo-Koba National Park is characterized by all the typical ecosystems of this region, over an area of ​​913,000ha. There are formations of gallery forests, herbaceous savannahs liable to flooding, ponds, dry and dense or open forests with undergrowth, rocky slopes and hills and bare Bowés, watered by large rivers (Gambia , Sereko, Niokolo, Koulountou). This remarkable floristic diversity justifies the presence of a great faunal richness marked by: the Derby elk (the largest antelope in Africa), the chimpanzee, the lion, the leopard, a large population of elephants and very many species of birds, reptiles and amphibians.

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