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Most Visited Places In Banjul City

By Yunus S Saliu

Banjul is the capital city of The Gambia referred to as Banjul City Council (BCC) its slogan is The City of Light. BCC has 208 years of establishment and housed the administrative office of The Gambia called State House. Banjul formally known as Bathurst is among the historical places in Destination Gambia with different places and attractions right from its entrance. The Gambia got its independence on the 18th day of February 1965 when the country clocked eight years and one day old, on the 19th of February 1963, the settlement on the Island was renamed from Bathurst to Banjul while the name of the Island remained St Mary Island till date and also the capital city of the country.

Among the most visited places in the City of Banjul include

National Museum

The Gambia National Museum is situated at the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) at Independence Drive in the heart of Banjul. The Museum was opened in 1985 with the primary goal of collecting and preserving artifacts, documenting the material and culture of The Gambia, as well as educating visitors to the country and residents who may not be familiar with Gambian history.

Have you ever been to this Museum, maybe not, but on your next visit to Banjul, have a stopover so that you will learn about the history, culture, and cultural heritage of the destination, its musical instruments, masquerades, and lots more.

However, the National Museum houses three floors of exhibits. The ground floor displays the political and cultural history of the nation’s capital, Banjul. On the second floor, you can learn about the archaeological history of West Africa and The Gambia, this floor also details the nation’s colonial and post-independence political and economic history. While at the basement level, you can learn about the musical heritage of The Gambia and see what instruments are popular throughout the country and sub-region.

Albert Market

Albert Market was founded in 1854 the construction was completed in 1856 and named after Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, who was then the Monarch of England. It was one of the first formal marketplaces in the Gambia that helped to create women entrepreneurs. For a very long time, women were the main occupant of the market. It was also a melting pot for different nationalities including Syrians, Senegalese, and Gambians.

On any of your visits to Banjul City, don’t miss visiting this market, it is a global market of the country. It is colorful, cheerful, and busy, and has a cacophony and scents that will make you like coming back for a visit.

The Six-Gun Battery

The historic Six-Gun Battery is located on the opposite bank of the River Gambia in Banjul. The Six-Gun Battery Fort now fenced with the State House was built by the English in 1816 AD it was an anti-slavery fort, not pro-slavery. However, The Six-Gun Battery was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003 as part of Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites.

Bond Road/Tambi Wetland

Tanbi Wetland is located along the swamp Bond Road established in 2001 it was gazetted and demarcated as a national park in 2018 by the National Assembly. The place is internationally recognized as a number one bird-watching spot in the sub-region and its migratory water birds make it a tourist attraction site. It is about 6000 hectares of which mangroves make 4800 hectares.

Quadrangle

The Quadrangle is the former secretariat, it is presently the administrative center of the Gambia that harbors different ministries including Tourism and Culture, Health, Agriculture, Youth and Sports, Finance, Lands and Local Governments, and others.

It also harbors some of the  heritage sites which include:

Cholera Epidemic Obelisk

The Cholera Epidemic Obelisk came into being after the disastrous and terrible frightening cholera epidemic that hit Bathurst, now Banjul City, in 1869. This 1869 cholera epidemic, is described as “one of the most terrible and disastrous epidemics in The Gambia’s history ever since.” A mass burial was given to the almost 2000 corpses at the Marina Parade, while a Cholera Epidemic Obelisk was erected in McCarthy Square to memorialize the 17 white people who died of the Cholera disease, while there is no memorial for the 1700 Gambians who perished.

Half-Die

In 1869 when the cholera epidemic hit Bathurst, the population at that time was 4000, and out of this number, the cholera epidemic killed 1700 people, which warranted the name of Mokam Town, Bathurst changed to Half-Die in today’s Banjul.

This Mokam Town was renamed Half-Die because the large population of this town was decimated completely by the disease. This is because when a Methodist Priest visited the heart of Mokam Town for inspection he was the first person to use the word HALF-DIE. After all, in some houses he found only babies sitting amid the corpses of their parents, sisters, and brothers.

Jubilee Clock Tower

The Jubilee Clock Tower erected in the former Secretariat now Quadrangle in Banjul is among the heritage sites in The Gambia. Nowadays, the Jubilee Clock Tower which is not so much noticed or popular among children and tourists was erected in 1892 by the company called J. Bavreras 73 years before The Gambia Independence in 1965, and was refurbished in 1897 by the Bathurst Women to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Queen Victoria ascension to the throne. It is the first Clock Tower in Destination Gambia situated in the middle of the former Secretariat right on top of the roof of the building housing the Ministry of Finance in Quadrangle and was officially inaugurated by Governor Llewely.

Arch 22

Arch 22, now to be called/changed to the Never Again Memorial Arch was built in 1996 by the AFPRC military regime to memorialize the army taken over from the civilian government on July 22, 1994. Facilities around the arch included a performance pavilion, restaurant, and bar, and inside the Arch, there is a museum. The Arch is visited by different people ranging from tourists, school children, researchers, historians, and others. It is the only place in Destination Gambia where you can view the panoramic view of the capital city.

It is located at the Box Bar, Marina Parade, and Independence Drive intersection, and receives thousands of visitors annually.

Kriting House

Kriting houses called Banjul houses, are traditional Gambian houses built in the city. These houses have a rich history dating back to the founding of Bathurst the former name of Banjul. During the initial settlement of the city, only the Aku from Sierra Leone and other merchants constructed more acceptable structures.

Whatever, kriting houses are unique architectural styles that are influenced by both African and European design. They typically have a rectangular or square shape with a flat roof while the walls are made of mud or laterite bricks and the roofs are often thatched or covered with corrugated iron sheets.

Wharves
One of the things that made Banjul significant in the destination is the wharf. Banjul as a commercial centre opened to lucrative trade along The Gambia River. This is why when the settlement came into being in 1816, various British traders who were established in Goree and St Louis in present-day Senegal decamped to Bathurst hoping to get improved access to the interior and to receive more flexible treatment from the British. However, at Wellington Street seaside there are nothing less than 12 wharves including the government, and they were made from durable locally available material like logs of rhun palms which grew abundantly in the country. Special wharf builders came from Goree to erect this infrastructure. Each company’s boats berthed at their wharf. Government boats berthed at the government wharf. These wharves, therefore, formed an important aspect of Banjul’s built heritage. They symbolize the brisk trade and confidence reposed in the town by European firms and indigenous traders.

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Yunus S Saliu

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