Dakar Travel Guide
Dakar © Jeff Attaway
After three centuries of French colonial rule, Senegal became independent in 1960. Before independence the city of Dakar was the capital of French West Africa, it has been the capital of the independent Republic since then. The country has retained strong ties with France and the French influence remains in the architecture of the city, where well preserved colonial buildings, the monumental government house and café terraces stand testimony to its history.
Situated on the tip of the Cap Vert Peninsula, the modern capital teems with life and boasts luxurious hotels, a wide range of restaurants, beaches and watersports, a casino and an active nightlife scene. It is also one of the busiest ports for cruise ships in Africa.
For lovers of history Gorée, a UNESCO Historical Monument, is a must-see. Those interested in the horrors of Senegal's slave trade past can find incredible history come alive in 'La Maison des Enclaves' with its cells, shackles and the slave dealer's apartments, as well as at the many museums housed in former slave houses, and the forts built to protect the lucrative business. Architecture in Dakar is also worth venturing out for; there are some beautiful buildings in and around the city including the city's cathedral and grand mosque. The most famous attraction in Dakar is the controversial African Renaissance Monument, a massive sculpture meant to represent Africa's emergence from slavery and colonialism.
Another great way to enjoy an afternoon in Dakar is by browsing the busy markets or having a picnic in one of the beautiful parks. Hann Park and Zoo is a great place to take kids in Dakar and Lake Retba is also an interesting sight for visitors of all ages, as tourists can watch the traditional salt harvesters at work.