Ouagadougou - Culture

IMAGE:Traditional BandBurkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou (or Ouaga), lies right in the middle of the country, standing at the crossroads of several ancient trade routes. It's more a large country town than a megalopolis; the core central area is easily covered on foot. There's not a lot to see, or visit, in Ouagadougou but what it lacks in epic monuments and grand buildings it makes up for in wide, shady boulevards, a relaxed atmosphere and friendly smiles. Burkinabes are gregarious people, always ready for a laugh and a chat over coffee, and hospitality is one of the city's trademarks. Unlike many other Sahelian cities, Ouagadougou is not predominantly Muslim so it's also got a lively nightclub scene.

Aimless ambling is a pleasant pastime in Ouagadougou but if you need a destination to hang your hat on, visit the National Museum. Traditional masks, pottery pieces, and other paraphernalia from the major ethnic groups are on display. The cathedral, near the Moro-Naba Palace, is the largest church in the interior of the West Africa. Ouagadougou's Grande Marche is always worth a visit. It's in the centre of town and has a number of great stalls upstairs.

The main trading centre is inside a triangle, with the train station at the northern point, the Presidential Palace at the eastern point and the cathedral at the southern point. Nelson Mandela Avenue bisects the top half of the triangle before terminating at a large roundabout, the Place des Nations Unies. Most of the major streets branch off from the roundabout like spokes on a wheel. Places to stay and eat are scattered evenly throughout the triangle.

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