Home to the palace of Félix Houphouët-Boigny and its crocodile-filled lagoon, Yamoussoukro is known as the birthplace of the first President of Ivory Coast. It’s renowned for its record-breaking basilica and foundation dedicated to peace, as well as being on the doorstep of Parc National d’Abokouamekro.
Things to do in Yamoussoukro
Inspired by the Basilica of Saint Peter in Vatican City, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace is the largest church in the world. It was created using Italian marble and French stained-glass windows, with the capacity to accommodate 18,000 worshippers beneath its 158-metre-high dome.
Yamoussoukro also has a sizeable Muslim population, and the magnificent Grand Mosque is their main place of worship. It is designed in an ornate, traditional West African style, with its towering minarets juxtaposed against the dome of the Basilica.
On the other side of the city lies the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Foundation, which was founded in 1973 to spread the president’s philosophical thinking and quest for peace. The striking modern design was envisioned by architect Olivier-Clément Cacoub, and temporary exhibitions on peace-related themes are often open to the public.
Yamoussoukro makes a good base for visiting Parc National d’Abokouamekro, which provides a refuge for the region’s wildlife. Rhinos, giraffes, buffalos and hippos inhabit its rolling grasslands and are best spotted congregating along the river banks in the early morning or at dusk.
Getting around Yamoussoukro
Yamoussoukro Airport is 25 minutes’ drive north-west of the city, and it’s a three-hour bus trip from Abidjan to the south-east. Mini buses and taxis are readily available for getting around the city, while many sights are within easy walking distance of one another.