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Colonial house in Grand-Bassam
|Coordinates: Coordinates: |
|Time zone||GMT (UTC+0)|
|Official name||Historic Town of Grand-Bassam|
|Designated||2012 (36th session)|
Grand-Bassam is a city in Côte d'Ivoire, lying east of Abidjan. It was the French colonial capital city from 1893 to 1896, when the administration was transferred to Bingerville after a bout of yellow fever. The city remained a key seaport until the growth of Abidjan from the 1930s.
Grand-Bassam is the chief city of Grand-Bassam Department. The city has the aura of a ghost town, since large sections have been abandoned for decades. In 1896 the French capital was moved to Bingerville, and commercial shipping gradually declined until it virtually ceased in the 1930s. In 1960, with independence, all remaining administrative offices were transferred to Abidjan, and for many years Grand Bassam was inhabited only by squatters. Beginning in the late 1970s the city began to revive as a tourist destination and craft center. It now has a year-round population of approximately 5,000.
The city is divided by the Ébrié Lagoon into two halves: Ancien Bassam is the former French settlement, facing the Gulf of Guinea. It is home to the grander colonial buildings, some of which have been restored. The district is also home to a cathedral and the Côte d'Ivoire National Museum of Costume. Nouveau Bassam, linked to Ancien Bassam by a bridge, lies on the inland, northern side of the lagoon. It grew from the African servants' quarter and is now the main commercial centre of the town.
The city is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand-Bassam. The Diocese's cathedral is the Cathédrale Sacré Cœur in Grand-Bassam.
In 2012, it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.