Ile de Gorée - site of the original European settlement in Dakar
30 minutes by boat across the sheltered waters of Dakar’s Cape Vert Peninsula, the first Europeans to populate Goree were the Portuguese. The, Dutch, French and English followed, and with these colonial powers came a layered, salty seafaring history, sometimes ignominious and tragic, and one that makes for an arresting experience for today’s visitor. As well as a centre for legitimate commerce, the island became one of West Africa’s main staging posts in the slave trade. To visit the old Dutch Slave House, with its dank dungeons, shackles and the infamous ‘Door of No Return’, or the fort, where slaves were once held and auctioned, provides deeply moving, powerful moments. It’s heartening that away from this museum, Goree is nowadays a place of no small charm, its resident population of around 1,000 keeping things lively at both shops and beach, and daily life played out against a backdrop of fine colonial architecture.