• Registration Year

    2012

  • Registered Sector

    Historic Town of Grand-Bassam

  • Historical Function

    The first colonial capital of Côte d’Ivoire

Urban Morphology

The first capital of Côte d’Ivoire, the Historic Town of Grand-Bassam, is an example of a late 19th- and early 20th-century colonial town planned with quarters specializing in commerce, administration, housing for Europeans and for Africans. The site includes the N’zima African fishing village alongside colonial architecture marked by functional houses with galleries, verandas and gardens. Grand-Bassam was the most important port, economic and judicial centre of Côte d’Ivoire. It bears witness to the complex social relations between Europeans and Africans, and to the subsequent independence movement. As a vibrant centre of the territory of French trading posts in the Gulf of Guinea, which preceded modern Côte d’Ivoire, it attracted populations from all parts of Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean Levant.

Registration Criteria

Criterion (iii): Grand-Bassam bears witness, through its well preserved urban organisation, to an important cultural tradition linked to its role as a colonial capital, an administrative centre for the former AOF (Afrique occidentale française) and a regional commercial hub. From the 1880s to the 1950s, the town brought together various African, European and Middle Eastern populations. Cohabitation between them was harmonious but at the same time conflictual. 

Criterion (iv): Grand-Bassam constitutes an outstanding example of rational colonial town planning, with its specialised quarters in an overall urban network in which vegetation has an important role. The colonial architecture is characterised by a sober and functional style, using principles of hygiene adapted to a tropical location. The organisation of the vernacular house in the N'zima village echoes this approach, expressing the permanency of indigenous values.

Historical Reference

The historic town of Grand-Bassam is an example of a colonial town built at the end of the 19th century and during the early 20th century. It follows a planning concept based on the specialisation of quarters for commerce, administration, housing for Europeans and housing for Africans. It embodies, on the one hand, colonial architecture and town planning, based on the principles of functionalism and hygiene of the time, and adapted to climatic conditions, and, on the other hand, an village N’zima which demonstrates the permanency of indigenous cultures. Grand-Bassam was the first colonial capital, and the most important port, economic centre and legal centre of Côte d’Ivoire; it bears witness to the complex social relations between Europeans and Africans, and then to the popular movement in favour of independence.

M. Georges Philippe Ezaley
Maire
Commune de Grand-Bassam
17 B.P. 148 Abidjan 17
Grand-Bassam, Côte d'Ivoire
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