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Top 5 Cities To Visit In  Africa

With over 54 countries, Africa is a continent with so much to see - where do you start? From bustling bazaars to magnificent medinas, here are our top 5 cities to visit in Africa:

Djenne, Mali

Flickr | upyernoz | Grand Mosque and Market, DjenneThe oldest known city in sub-Saharan Africa, has been inhabited since 250 BC.  The city’s history was closely linked to Timbuktu, being part of the Trans-Saharan trade route. In the 15th century, Portuguese trading posts attempted to tap into the city’s valuable resources such as gold and salt. Djenne’s architecture has a strong Sudanese influence, evident in the Old Town UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprising of bustling markets, mosques and monuments. The city houses one of Africa’s most famous landmarks, the 13th century Great Mosque of Djenne, located on the flood plains of the Bani River. Over 52 feet tall, the sunbaked earth bricks of the original structure served as one of the most important Islamic learning centres in Africa during the Middle Ages.

Windhoeck, Namibia

Flickr | oledoeNamed after the hotsprings located near to this urban capital, Windhoeck exudes a clean, modern and cosmopolitan ambience that boasts colonial-era buildings, towering high-rises and winding streets named after famous dictators – Fidel Castro Street anyone? Craft markets, arcades and malls galore – Windhoeck offers respite for travelers looking for a modern city break on the south-western coast. While visitors to the city are can utilise the city’s public transport, they might enjoy the easiest form of getting around, namely the combie, which cover the entirety of the country as well as commutes from Cape Town.

Kigali, Rwanda

Flickr | oledoeBoasting lively markets, a vibrant night life and enchanting landscapes, you’ll never be short of something to do in the city of Kigali. Check out the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park or visit the Caplaki handicrafts cooperative to browse the local crafts, curios and art collectives.

Pay your respects at the Kigali Genocide Memorial and learn more about the historical tragedy that shaped the country. Enjoy the serenity of its surrounding rose gardens and fountains and take time to appreciate how far this progressive city has come. Kigali is one of Africa’s cleanest cities after its 2008 ban on non-biodegradable plastics, which has transformed the city’s eco-consciousness.

Stone Town, Tanzania

Flickr | imke.stahlmannEast Africa’s finest coastal trading port is the island of Zanzibar’s main city, Stone Town. Crowned a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, this flourishing city has undergone a long history of colonial dominance by the Portuguese, the Germans, and the British. In 1840, the Sultan of Oman moved his country’s capital city from Muscat to Stone Town, thus embarking on an era of Arab, Persian and Indian cultural influence on the city’s architecture. The best known landmarks of Stone Town are Belt-al-Ajaib or “Palace of Wonders” and the adjacent Gold Fort, which together are the centres of Swahili and Zanzibar culture. This island city experiences hot tropical weather all year round, so the city is prone to peak tourist seasons.

Antananarivo, Madagascar

Flickr | Franx' | Antananarivo The capital known locally as Tana is home to a unique combination of colonial history and cultural hubs with endemic creatures inhabiting the Madagascan rainforest backdrop. The city architecture takes influence from colonial France and Indonesia, though not a typical tourist site Antananarivo offers visitors alternative sites such as the Lemur Park, the Marche Artisanal de La Digue (handicraft market) and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ambohimanga, the original capital of the Merina royal family. This last site was off-limits to foreigners until 2001 for being ‘the most significant symbol of cultural identity for the people of Madagascar’.

By Anaka Nair & Laura Hallensleben - Online Journalism Interns

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