the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, the largest Christian building on earth, in Yamoussoukro

Everybody got their visas, so no extra day in Grand Bassam, and no day excursion to Abidjan. A pity, in a way – missed opportunity – but on the other hand most African cities so far haven’t impressed very much (although Abidjan may have had the capacity to do so, a bit more: green, clean and attractive modern architecture, so they say). Instead, we pick up the transit mode again, making miles on the way to our final destination.

we drive the first part along the coast, with big ships offshore

and small ones pulled up on the beach

the Akwaba statue at the edge of Abidjan, akwaba meaning welcome

the skyline of Abidjan, not unattractive

and then there is the cathedral, or basilica, whatever you want to call it

stairs and enormous pillars

inside actually quite nice, with huge chandelier and windows

and a glass ceiling in the cupola

this is the view from the upstairs balcony

enormous stained-glass windows

with traditional themes


We bypass most of Abidjan, except its traffic jam, and get on a dual carriage way to Yamoussoukro, the capital of Cote d’Ivoire. Where we only stop to visit the cathedral, the largest Christian building in the world, called the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace. And it is big! Its dome visible from afar, it is only once we stand in front of it that the size really sinks in. The dome is more than twice that of the Saint Peter in the Vatican, marble was imported from Italy, 8400 m2 of stained glass from France, 7000 pews are made from iroko wood, with standing room for another 11,000, yet on an average Sunday mass, there may be a few hundred people. This is one of those megalomaniac projects from a president with an oversized ego, the country’s first, Félix Houphouët-Boigny – who also turned Yamoussoukro, his birth place, into the capital in 1983. Why on earth a poor country like his needs to spend an inordinate amount of money on such prestige projects beats all of us reasonable thinking people, of course, but then, we have never made it to president.

This being West Africa, we first need to pay our entrance fee, and another ten dollars for the camera, even though – this being West Africa – you are not allowed take pictures inside. We smuggle in a telephone, instead, and sneak in a few photos, of the interior. Which, despite my scepticism about the need of this building, is actually quite nice, with modern-style and elegant stained glass windows. We take a spiral staircase to the terrace, almost 200 steps, from which we get another view. Of the surrounding, which is not particularly interesting, but also of the interior of the church below, which from here is equally impressive. With fewer guards here, it is easier to take those photos.

and also strikingly modern

the view from the main entrance

and the view from the roof

back on the road, good quality tarmac

And then it is back in transit mode, on the way to the Liberian border. No pretence of touristic trip anymore, we are just going to make the miles. We are a few days behind schedule, we need to catch up.

We stop in a place called Daloa, where we, surprise, surprise, find a surprisingly good Chinese restaurant.

Next: to Liberia

villages abound, mostly concrete or stone houses and corrugated iron roofs

some business, but I don’t know which one – it is not cocoa or coffee season, I think (or perhaps the very end of coffee?)

and this is good news: colourful gas bottles have replaced charcoal

One Response to 6 April 2023

  1. Thea Oudmaijer says:

    The dome is very nice and nice pictures!

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