Tourist Attraction in Abidjan: Cathédrale Saint-Paul d'Abidjan
The Cathedral of Sant Paul is a Catholic cathedral located in the city of Abidjan, in the Ivory Coast. The cathedral, designed by architect Aldo Spirito, serves as a mother church for the Catholic archdiocese of Abidjan. The first stone of the cathedral was consecrated on 11 May 1980 by Pope John Paul II during his first pastoral visit to the Ivory Coast. He also dedicated the building to completion on 10 August 1985 during a second visit to the country to lay the foundations of the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace (Yamoussoukro). The cost for the implementation of this modern architectural building, believed to be the second largest church on the African continent and one of the largest cathedrals in the world, Architecturally, the cathedral is unique and modern, although built to meet specific aspirations of the ethnic population of the Ivory Coast. The impressive exterior feature of the cathedral that attracts visitors at the entrance is the high concrete structure that has the shape of an anthropomorphic giant. It is in a dominant position on a hill that offers breathtaking views of the city of Abidjan and overlooks the Cocody Bay. The planning for the construction of the cathedral was assigned to the Italian architect Aldo Spirito in 1980, under the directive of Félix Houphouët-Boigny, President of Côte d'Ivoire. The architect designated for the design was Pope John Paul II, who blessed the first stone during his visit to the Ivory Coast in 1980. The construction was completed for a period of five years by a company in the common sector of Sonitra and the government of Ivory Coast in association with Sonitra, an Israeli company. The cathedral was formally consecrated by the Pope during his second visit to Abidjan in August 1985. It is the second largest cathedral in Africa. The Cathedral of Saint Paul has served as a refuge for about 1,800 Ivorians fleeing the violence in the midst of the Ivorian crisis of 2010-2011 that overwhelmed Abidjan. The structure of the Cross, which is winged on both sides, is held in place through seven cables that are anchored to the main building of the cathedral which is triangular in shape; creates a high vision that the structure is pulled towards the lagoon. The materials used for the construction of this unique building are made of cement, steel, travertine (a form of limestone deposited from mineral springs), stones and sheets of colored glass. The symbolism represented by the general structure of the cathedral and the cross is of Jesus Christ spreading his arms, similar to the statue of Christ in Rio, with a metaphysical meaning of attraction towards the last trinity. The exterior feature of the cathedral's cross is also deduced to depict a view as if a devotee were bent over his knees offering prayers with his cape flying backwards merging into the charming slab of concrete that is an integral part of the cathedral's roof. On the exterior facade of the cathedral there are fourteen panels of different sizes, in different colors, which are made in ceramic terracotta with the Cross and the story of Christ as the main theme (relevant to local ethnic perceptions). These panels are sequentially affixed (corresponding to the story) on the side wall of the steps leading from the lagoon to the cathedral square.