Capital of Senegal
Island of Gorée
Slave trading post
Location and site
The island of Gorée lies off the coast of Senegal, opposite Dakar. From the 15th to the 19th century, it was the largest slave-trading centre on the African coast. Ruled in succession by the Portuguese, Dutch, English and French, its architecture is characterized by the contrast between the grim slave-quarters and the elegant houses of the slave traders. Today it continues to serve as a reminder of human exploitation and as a sanctuary for reconciliation.
The island measures 900 m from north to south and all its extent is developed. Square-patterned in its center by streets that intersect at right angles, the route adapts to the division of the narrower part of the island. Sandy streets bordered of tropical vegetation, almost all of them lead to the sea: streets of Dongeons, Batteries, Gourmettes.
Forts and batteries (ruins of the Castel’s turrets, North Battery, Estée Fort, Fort St-François ruins), official and religious buildings (churches, mosque, palace, hospital) occupy selected places. However, it is the houses with tiled roofs, yellow ocher and painted balconies that make up the landscape of the island. Dating back to the eighteenth century, they are built on two levels, the first (basement or ground floor), dark and small, was the place of slaves. The second, the residence of the masters, is surrounded by arcaded galleries, balcony windows and neo-classical colonnades. To these architectures laden with symbols is added a House of Slaves, a museum whose narrow door opens onto the sea.
Criterion (vi): The Island of Gorée is an exceptional testimony to one of the greatest tragedies in the history of human societies: the slave trade. The various elements of this “memory island” – fortresses, buildings, streets, squares, etc. – recount, each in its own way, the history of Gorée which, from the 15th to the 19th century, was the largest slave-trading centre of the African coast.
- At the time of the great discoveries, the slave trade already practiced in the Middle Ages in the Sahara and the Mediterranean gains importance in the context of the colonial economies. Triangular traffic between Europe, Africa and the New World is introduced. Gorée is the largest slave trading post on the African coast.
- In 1444, the island of Gorée is taken by the Portuguese who stay there until 1595. From the fifteenth century, counters are established on the coast. In 1530, the Kingdom has its first sugar cane plantation in Brazil; and the new settlers bring black people from African posts.
- The island of Gorée is taken from the Portuguese by the Dutch, then it is taken and retaken again by French and English. In general, the colonials, solely concerned with the slave trade, remained on the coast.
- At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the slave trade was officially abolished. According to a modest estimate, 11 million of black people left the African coast between 1451 and 1870.
Mme Soham El Wardini
Maire de Dakar
Hôtel de ville de Dakar
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M. Bira kane Ndiaye
Directeur de Cabinet
Ville de Dakar
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