Saint-Louis was, up until 1957, the capital city of Senegal and Mauritania. This historic city was highly influential in the fields of education, culture, crafts and services. Its distinct architecture, from the ornate balconied homes of the beautiful Signares to the rare Portuguese courtyarded homes, lends to the charm of the island.
In 2000, Saint Louis became the 4th site from Senegal to make the World Heritage List. The designated property includes the entire island, as well as its banks, system of quays and the Faidherbe Bridge. It is divided into three parts: the North Quarter, the South Quarter and Place Faidherbe with the Governance Palace in the centre.
The city is a unique landscape with an exceptional environment, a subtle marriage of land and water. Due to its geographical position, Saint-Louis has proved to be an essential commercial hub with its original quay system allowing for river trade. Once made of wood, these now concrete quays delineate the city’s traffic lanes. They ensure its cleanliness and protect it from flooding.
The island of Saint-Louis doesn’t just hold historic and architectural value. Known as Ndar in Wolof, this living community abounds in the famous Senegalese Teranga. It has a population of almost 300,000 inhabitants who subsist on fishing, tourism and commerce. On the religious level, Saint-Louis is considered to be an intellectual and spiritual crossroads where great religious figures have passed by and where women have taught the Koran.
Famous for its beauty, Saint-Louis nevertheless deals with conservation challenges linked to rising water levels and the degradation of its urban fabric. It’s populations is however very mobilized and fights daily for its protection, ensuring that future generation may also enjoy it in its integrity. If we hope to achieve this vision, sustainable development and protection of the urban heritage must be of the utmost priority.
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