Goree Island from the ferry boat


GoreÚ Island, rich in history, is probably the area's favorite and most famous tourist attraction.  One of the most frequently visited sites is the Maison des Esclaves (Slave House), a poignant reminder of GoreÚ's role as the center of West African slave trade.  Built by the Dutch in 1776, the slave house has been preserved in its original state.  Other points of interest include the Church, the picturesque ruins of Fort Nassau, Saint Michel (the Castle) and the Historical Museum in the old Fort Estrees.  There is a small swimming beach near the ferry slip.
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Today, a quiet and quaint haunt for tourists with about 1,000 permanent residents, GoreÚ played an Walkway up to St. Michel Castle important role in the history of Africa, particularly in the development of the slave trade. Goree Island from the ferry Only three kilometers from Dakar at its nearest point, the island is make up of a flat plain that ends in a steep basaltic hill (the Castle), and is only 900 meters by 300.  Possibly sighted by Phoenicians and others in antiquity, it was probably first discovered by the Portuguese explorer Dias in 1444.

The island was colonized in 1817.  As with Manhattan Island, the Dutch bought the island from a local chief for a pittance.  GoreÚ became a way station for Dutch ships plying the route between their forts on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and the Indies. The Dutch gave the island its name, most probably for "Goeree" Island in Holland, or more fancifully - according to some - for its sheltered harbor, "Goode Reede" (good harbor).  GoreÚ changed hands many times. The British took it from the Dutch; The Dutch then recaptured it, but had to give it up again to the French during French maritime expansion under Colbert.  In 1802, by the terms of the Amiens peace agreement, the island became French and remained so until Senegalese independence in 1960.

GoreÚ was the principal entry point off the coast of Africa for slavers and The small Fort Estrees turned museum merchantmen flying the French flag.  Thousands of AfricansView of Goree port from Fort Estrees passed through this island fortress on the continent's bulge. After the abolition of the slave trade in France in 1848, GoreÚ was an outpost for policing the seas.  As its role in trade declined, it became a stepping off point for French colonization of the interior of West Africa.

GoreÚ had the first school and the first printing plant in French Africa.  It was also one of the "four communes" which in the 19th century were electing deputies tot he French National Assembly.  Like Zanzibar off the East Coast of Africa, GoreÚ is important in the early history of American relations with Africa.  The United States established a consulate in Senegal in 1885.  Many buildings on GoreÚ are currently undergoing renovations, sponsored by Senegal  and many other governments and international organizations.  

( A ferry is available, to and from the island, every day, almost every hour from 7am to 11pm.)

The Slave House: Built in 1776 by the Dutch, the slave House is one of several sites on the island whereTo the "Door of No Return" : Goree Africans were brought to be loaded onto ships bound for the New World.  The owner's residential quarters were on the upper floor.  The lower floor was reserved for the slaves who were weighed, fed and held before departing on the transatlantic journey.  The Slave House with its famous "Door of No Return" has been preserved in its original state.  Thousands of tourists visit the house each year.

The Botanical Gardens: Located on the Rue du Port, the gardens were founded by the French in 1667 and remain open to the public.

The Church of St. Charles: Located on the Place de l'Eglise, the church was built with public contributions in 1830 in the style of provincial churches in western France.

The Castle: Originally built by the Dutch in the 17th century, the fortress has been razed andView of Goree from the island's high point, where the castle once stood reconstructed several times.  In the 18th century it housed the residence of the Governor of Senegal and in 1940 it was bombarded by a combined British and Free French naval force.

William Ponty School:  From 1913-1937, this building housed the Ecole Normale William Ponty where many African leaders were educated.

Strickland House:  The site of the first American Consulate established in West Africa.  It was the home of American businessman Peter Strickland who came to Africa in 1878 as a representative of the Boston trading firm and was named the US Consul in 1883.

UniversitÚ des Mutants: This university, founded by former Senegal President Senghor, was established to bring together the best minds of Africa.  It is the site of frequent conferences on current cultural and economic issues for developing nations.

Hostellerie du Chevalier de Boufflers: This well-known restaurant was named after the first FrenchHostellerie du Chevalier de Boufflers overlooking the beach Governor of Senegal, a colorful figure who moved to GoreÚ from the Capital of St. Louis (northwest coast) and is reported to have broken many hearts upon his return to France in 1788.

Historic Museum: Opened in 1989, the museum has exhibits on anthropology, West African pre-historyEntrance to the small Fort Estrees, now museum and the political and religious history of Senegal. 



The Goree Institute: Pan African non-profit organization, that engages in community planning, cultural programming, and the peace academy '(democracy and governance), on the Island and throughout the Diaspora.


Celebrating diveristy
A mural painted by Goree school children in memory of those taken from Africa as slaves
"Please call baaaaaaack'
An unusual customer
Small art market on Goree
A small art market in a courtyard on the island.