Yamoussoukro’s Amazing Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix
Who would have thought of seeing an almost “replica” of an Italian structure in a French-colonized country?
Well, that’s one of the interesting things to see in Yamoussoukro, the capital of Cote D’Ivoire – the Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix.
Some interesting facts about the basilica:
- Also known as the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro
- It was completed in 1989 through a labour force of of 1500 (secretly working day and night) for a period of 3 years.
- Bears striking resemblance to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, though by papal request, the cupola was constructed slightly lower than that of St. Peter’s dome. It’s topped with a huge gold cross making it the tallest church in Christendom.
- Said to have a price tag of $300M USD and costs $1.5 M USD to maintain. (Can’t imagine how the country can afford the maintenance of this basilica while its people are living in slum. It was said that the president was reluctant to discuss the details of its financing. He just said that a “deal with God” has been done.)
- The man responsible for the creation of the basilica is Pierre Fakhoury (Ivorian of Lebanese descent).
- There’s a hospital built nearby (one of Pope John Paul’s conditions for its (cotroversial) consecration)
- Each seat is individually air-conditioned.
To enter the basilica, you must leave your passport with the guard if you’re a foreigner. You can’t just go in and have a look around. They have english-speaking guides to go with you and tell you when it’s ok to take a photo. Before my tour began, my guide told me to start thinking that I’m not in Cote D’Ivoire but in Italy. It was Holy week when we went there and it felt good to at least visit a church as part of our traditional ‘Visita Iglesia’ – something I haven’t done in years!
Truly breathtaking as I crossed the threshold! I was surrounded by 36 immense stained-glass windows of vibrant colors all telling a story from the bible. All 7400 sq metres of 5000 different shades amazig colours! The 12 inner columns supporting the upper structure aren’t columns alone. 6 of which are elevators to go up to the 2nd floor and 6 are sound system/speakers built inside the columns, alternating.
Another iteresting thing I saw inside the basilica, the people on the stained glass are all African, even the Blessed Virgin Mary is African!
Of all the capitals in Africa that I’ve been, I reckon it’s safe to say that Yamoussoukro is the most developed when it comes to structures. Their people might be living in poverty but they have amazing buildings to show off, one of which is this basilica. (I am not impressed with their roads though as the potholes can’t be considered potholes anymore due to its size. It’s already a pool if you ask me! It will be on another post, trust me! Haha)
Anyhow, I think this one’s another to consider when you visit Cote D’Ivoire. Happy travels!!