Bamako, Mali -- the capital of this land-locked country -- is built on both banks of the Niger River. The two banks are joined by the Pont des Martyrs and the King Fahd bridges. The administrative and commercial centers are located on the north bank, and this is where visitors will find accommodation and all the points of interest.
Of the notable buildings in Bamako, the BCEAO Tower is the city's tallest structure and useful for orientation in this noisy, bustling, sometimes chaotic city. It is the headquarters of the Central Bank of West Africa. The Bamako Grand Mosque, on Rue Pasteur near the central market and railway station, was built in the seventies and was Saudi funded. One kilometer southwest on Avenue de Fleuve, visitors will find the catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral, completed in the early twentieth century, and a further kilometer southwest down Avenue de la Nation, can be found the Institut Francais cultural center.
North of the railway station and built in the mid-twentieth century and well worth a visit, is the National Museum of Mali on Avenue de la Liberte. It has exhibits on Malian culture, ethnic costumes, and many archaeological artifacts. A five-minute walk north will take you to Bamako Botanical Gardens and the zoo.
Monument hunters will find several in Bamako including the Monument de la Paix, Hamdallaye Obelisk, Souvenir Pyramid, Independence Monument, and the Al Quoods Monument, while a walk up the northern escarpment overlooking the city reveals terrific citywide views and a surprising amount of greenery in this dry and dusty city.
Among the many hotels and guesthouses in Bamako, budget travelers will find a few hostels in Bamako, Mali. The hostels in Bamako, Mali, have very cheap dorm beds and are located within a fifteen-minute walk of the center of town. The Bamako, Mali hostels are great places to meet up with, and get onward traveling advice, from other travelers, and they have info on all the arts and music events in the city.
In the late twentieth century, Mali became internationally known for its arts. Filmmaking and music is still an important part of Bamako culture and it's not unusual to come across impromptu street concerts. Musicians like Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabate, the duo Amadou and Mariam, and Salif Keita have become world famous and perform regularly abroad. Any opportunity to see a live concert in Bamako should be grasped with both hands.
At the same time, Malian films have also been getting international acclaim. Cheikh Oumar Sissoko's "Guimba The Tyrant," and Souleymane Cisse's "Finye" have both won international film awards. The excellent film "Bamako" is another multi-award-winning film directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, a Mauritanian-born director, who has lived in Mali for many years.
Bamako can be a little too much for some travelers, as it's hot, noisy, dusty, and crowded, but it rewards those who stick with it.
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