Trip to Banjul, one of the smallest and most unique capitals in the world

When talking about capital cities, one would typically imagine a big, busy metropolis with plenty of high buildings, heavy traffic and a majestic main square. But in our case, Banjul is the total opposite of this image. This small yet unique capital is perfect for a half-day trip to feel the city’s pulse.

The City of Banjul was founded in 1816. As an important strategic point of the country, it played a crucial role in history. The city lies on a peninsula, surrounded by river Gambia at the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean. Its position makes it impossible for urban sprawl. It leaves Banjul solely as the administrative and economic centre of the country.

Most colonial cities emerged in the time of the slave trade to promote the trade. Banjul was founded after constructing houses and barracks to control the entrance to the Gambia estuary and suppress the slave trade.
Bathurst, as it was previously called, was first leased by the King of Kombo to the Duke of Courtland and Semigallia in 1651 and later ceded to Alexander Grant of British governance in 1816.
Having the only port in the Gambia, today Banjul is the epicentre of the import/export trade and is somehow overwhelmed with the pressure of trading and commerce.
Being the country’s economic centre, it is pretty amazing how lonely Banjul becomes after 5 pm and during weekends when most workers would return to their homes outside the capital. This is making Banjul a less hectic place to visit. However, you will not be able to do your shopping stroll past lively shops on the ground floors of the buildings built in different architectural origins and styles present throughout the town’s history.
Apart from the vivid combination of architecture, Banjul is attractive also because of the many points of interest. You would not want to miss visiting Arch 22, The Gambia National Museum, Albert Market with craft market, and stroll down the streets to see King Fahad Mosque, MacCarthy Square, main port, Edward Francis teaching hospital, St Mary’s Cathedral and more. On the outskirts of the city lies another architectural beauty, The National Assembly of The Gambia.

Arch 22

This massive, 36m high gateway, built to celebrate the military coup of 22 July 1994, grants excellent views of the whole city and its daily activities. It was built as a remembrance of the former president’s Yahya Jammeh coup to take control from the then-president Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara. Today, there are still ongoing investigations of human rights violations under his regime. Many people feel his rule was a hurtful stain in the history of the independence of The Gambia.
The third-floor museum about the coup d’état is now being renovated. It will soon open its doors, portraying a new exhibition. The second floor will host the collection of art pieces of Gambian painters. The bar and restaurant on the same floor are soon to open again, as well as the gift shop.

The Gambia National Museum

The National Museum has the most extensive collection of artefacts and documents documenting The Gambia’s culture, nature, and history of the last 70 or more years.
Opened in 1985, The Gambia National Museum plays an important role in tourism promotion and education of the visitors and residents about the heritage of The Gambia.
The wooden building, which is very rare to see in The Gambia, houses three floors with different collections. Basement level presents musical heritage, and a vast array of the instruments played throughout the country, tribes and historical periods. Ground floor concentrates on the capital city, Banjul, showcasing political and historical development as well as the cultural aspect of it. The top floor covers the natural history exhibit. It portrays historical periods starting from early age excavations up to the post-independence time.

Albert Market and Craft Market

Albert Market is one of the oldest in The Gambia. Named after Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, it offers commerce for many fruits, fish, herb sellers, and also woodcarvers or other artists with their handmade products set in purposely made shops at the part of the market, called craft market. Stalls of the Albert market are nicely distributed, forming a labyrinth wide enough to enable comfortable passage while browsing through different products venders have to offer.
Take enough time to fully take in all the colours, smells and sounds of the market. You can stop for a drink or street food snack or just try out your bargaining skills.

King Fahad Mosque

The majestic mosque is the principal mosque of Banjul, with a capacity of 6000 worshipers. The Mosque was constructed in 1988 and named after Saudi Arabian King. Its modern architecture and two octagonal minarets grace the skyline of Banjul, where the mosque is one of the most recognisable landmarks.

MacCarthy Square

The square was named after the British governor Sir Charles MacCarthy, who actively campaigned to suppress the slave trade. In the time of Yahya Jammeh reign, the park was renamed July 22nd Square but proclaimed with the previous name after the election of Adama Barrow. The square is open to the public for special celebrations such as national holidays and Independence Day, when you can watch marching parades from the grandstands.

Saint Mary’s Cathedral

Banjul Cathedral was built in 1901 by the Church of England. Christianity was introduced to the Gambia by Portuguese sailors in the 15th century. It represents about 4% of the populations religion today. The cathedral is the seat of the Diocese of Banjul, which belongs to the Anglican Diocese of The Gambia, being part of the 17 dioceses in the Church of the Province of West Africa.

Banjul Ferry Terminal

The river crossing is one of the main transport routes since many people commute from Banjul to Barra. The ferry is also used many times for transport service when travelling from southern Senegal to Dakar. The ferry ride takes about 30 minutes, but you might have to wait quite a bit longer for the ferry to arrive, load, depart and unload.

Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital

It is the only teaching hospital in The Gambia, built in 1853 by the British Government. With 547 beds, it served as the principal hospital of The Gambia. It offers consultant and general services in more than 12 clinical disciplines. It strives to establish the highest quality of health care teaching and learning provided to the patients.
Source: africalists.com

National Assembly of the Gambia

On the way to or from Banjul, you will see a magnificent building of the National Assembly of The Gambia. It is the unicameral legislature of The Gambia. Fifty-three members directly elected through the first past the post, and a further five members appointed by the president form the legislative authority.
Are you planning to visit The Gambia?

We live in The Gambia and we are happy to help you to plan your holidays. By choosing us, your time, your most valuable asset will be fulfilled with creative suggestions about where to go and what to do. You will know you are making the right choice because we are spending a lot of time on the road ourselves; scouting out new places, deepening relationships with locals involved, and finding places to eat, enjoy and stay. 

Your questions and requests will be considered individually by one of our experts. You will receive special benefits that you can’t get on your own or are not available on automatic booking systems. We will provide you with a wide range of information about activities you can choose to make your stay more vivid. You will have the assistance of a person, which will be there for you, will provide information to the details and use all the knowledge to make your trip memorable. 

Get everything set for your vacation and travel without worries. 

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