The City Tour in Abidjan

Ivory Coast, Abidjan Guide (A): The City Tour in Abidjan

Abidjan is the biggest economic hub and the most sophisticated and modernized town in West Africa. This city has it all: monuments, shops, parks, beautiful and old buildings, plazas and all kinds of hidden gems waiting to be discovered by tourists. Does it sound similar to New York City or Chicago? Can't find anything new and unusual? Take this Tour and you will change your opinion. Do take my word for it.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: The City Tour in Abidjan
Guide Location: Ivory Coast » Abidjan
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 3.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: The Market Place in Adjamé   The National Library   The National Museum   The Administrative Towers   Saint Paul Cathedral   The Courthouse   The Market Place in Plateau  
Author: Drissa Cisse
Author Bio: I am a professional and full time freelance journalist based in Ivory Coast, West Africa. I got a DESS that is a degree between Master and Ph-D in Communication. I also teach, in part-time, communication science at college.
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The Market Place in Adjamé

1) The Market Place in Adjamé

Reputed to be the biggest market place in West Africa, Adjamé is also known for its vendors, who are said to excel in selling. This is a place you will fall in love with, if you are really used to crowds, noise, variety of colors, and of course - shouting. The market itself is a spacious three-floors building. In fact, Adjamé is not only a market place. The first impression it offers is that this district, as the town center of Abidjan, has naturally become the most important passenger station of the city. You will be amazed to see how big this place really is and how much of the city's vital points it embraces. If one would say the Market Place is Abidjan's beating heart, that wouldn't be a hyperbole at all.
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The National Library

2) The National Library

Located between two main but contrasted districts in Abidjan, the National Library is an iron and stained-glass three floors building, erected and offered by Canada to the Republic of Ivory Coast in 1974. The district of Plateau, also called “Little Manhattan” because of its big and beautiful buildings, and Adjamé, the most popular section where the largest market of the city can be found, are sharing the 6500 square meters of this "Mecca" of reading. In fact, it is difficult to determine exactly whether the National Library is part of the sophisticated business district of Plateau or the huge and noisy market place of Adjamé. This modern building is surrounded by a spacious garden, perfect for outdoors reading. As annexes to the main building there are a cozy restaurant and conference room. The staff here is reputed for its warm welcome and excellent service.
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The National Museum

3) The National Museum

Next to the National Library, stands the National Museum, located tete-a-tete to the Administrative Towers. The museum comprises three buildings. The first one houses art collections, the second one has been fitted out as offices for the staff, and the third one is an extension of the exhibition space. There is also a narrow garden right by the museum. The art collections are diverse and rich, even though they mainly consist of traditional pieces from the Ivorian territory. What can generally be found here are filigreed golden jewels, golden instruments, wooden statuettes, grimacing masks, smiling masks, statues, carved doors for huts, guns, music instruments, and swatches of pharmacopeia products.
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The Administrative Towers

4) The Administrative Towers

The district of Plateau or “Little Manhattan” is a business district with big and beautiful towers, where one can find the most important departmental and administrative offices, the head offices of the greatest national and multinational firms, banks, as well as the World Trade Center subsidiary. Close to the World Trade Center, stand the famous five buildings, called the Administrative Towers. All of them have more or less the same height. This might just be the nicest place of the capital city. These towers housing several departmental offices, are considered as one of the three prides of the first President of the Ivory Coast (the others being the Basilica Notre-Dame-De-La-Paix and the Foundation Houphouet Boigny in Yamoussoukro), who built them in the 1980s.
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Saint Paul Cathedral

5) Saint Paul Cathedral

Saint Paul Cathedral has a history that began with the Saint Paul of Plateau Church. The church was built in 1913 and afterward became a cathedral. In 1975 a new building replaced the old church on a new site. The Government previously had another project for this site: building a Government Printing Office. The fact that the Ivory Coast would get its own cathedral predominated, and the erection of the Printing Office was postponed for a new date. On May 11th, 1980 Pope John Paul II, who had undertaken his first pastoral visit to the Ivory Coast, laid down the first stone for the Cathedral Saint Paul. Five years later, thanks to the genius of the Italian architect Aldo Spirito and the persistence of former President Felix Houphouet Boigny, this imposing building was constructed. In front of the Cathedral stands a 50 meters tall cross facing the district of Indenié. This masterpiece always has its doors open for any wanderer, so do not hesitate to go inside.
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The Courthouse

6) The Courthouse

The Abidjan Courthouse is a large building, which has served its time. It still can be regarded as an architectural jewel, in spite of the signs of old age it displays. To be truthful, nowadays, this courthouse is not prepared to hold all the trials planned on a daily basis. This beautiful building is in a poor condition and needs maintenance, as it has been neglected for quite some time. The building also lacks air conditioning for the rooms and offices it houses. While walking the Courthouse's corridors you will feel like in the middle of an African market place, with people shouting, laughing and walking away. "What a contrast!" one could think, if comparing it to the solemnity western courthouses are usually filled with. But who said different is bad?
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The Market Place in Plateau

7) The Market Place in Plateau

This is an ordinary tiny market place in the wealthiest and most sophisticated district of Abidjan. Located between the Court and the World Trade Center Tower, this place, which features a monument representing an elephant in life-size in front of its main entrance, is called the Market of the Court simply for its closeness to the Courthouse. Before being what it is today, a few restaurants or “maquis” gave birth to this market, out of the necessity of having fresh supplies close by. Now, there are lots of such restaurants in the area, offering African meat dishes such as attieke, biocosseu, alloco poisson, placali and others. Many other merchants selling diverse items here, for both locals and tourists. Maybe because this place is located in a district like Plateau, it is reasonably quiet. This Tour took you from the huge and noisy Market Place of Adjamé, to this narrow and silent place, for you to gather your thoughts and impressions and plan for your next adventure. Have fun while discovering the wonders of Africa!