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Libreville, Gabon's Capital City

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Libreville, the capital of Gabon on the west coast of Central Africa, is a modern African city with plenty of 5 star hotels, decent French wine, good beaches, malls and fast-food restaurants. The markets, Musée des Arts et Traditions du Gabon and National Museum are worth a look. The nightlife is vibrant, check out hotel bars for live music and numerous nightclubs around town for dancing. Libreville will host the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012. More about Libreville below...
Libreville, Gabon's capital city, West Africa

Libreville, Gabon's capital city, West Africa

global photographer/creative commons
Gabon's capital city Libreville is a vibrant city with a population of around half a million people. Compared to other regional capitals, Libreville is a fairly modern looking town in parts, with casinos and large hotels lining the best beaches in town. It's not cheap, but the beer and wine is plentiful and the restaurants are very good if you can afford the French/African upmarket restaurants.

History of Libreville
Libreville was founded as a town by freed slaves in 1848. The French navy had stopped a Portuguese ship carrying the slaves to Brazil, and let the liberated men and women settle in Libreville. "Libreville" means free town in French. The city grew slowly up until independence from France in 1960, and since has steadily increased its population, whereby almost half of all Gabonese now live in the capital.

Libreville's Top Attractions
Libreville is a mixed bag of a city, wide boulevards with modern buildings can give way to ramshackle neighborhoods and areas showcasing soviet architecture at its most drab. The best way to get around Libreville to all the attractions, is by taxi.

Musee des Arts et Traditions offers a good insight into Gabon's thriving traditional arts scene. Plenty of masks, sculptures and traditional crafts on display. To buy your own masks and curios, head for the artisan market.

Traditional Ceremonies - traditional Bitwi performances and ceremonies are offered by several associations in town, one that comes recommended is the Ebando Association.

L’Eglise St-Michel (St Michael Cathedral) has 31 carved wooden columns that depict various biblical scenes. (It’s said that a blind craftsman carved the columns.)

Beaches in Libreville are plentiful, a little outisde of town is the popular Pointe Denis and Ekwata island. In town, head for the fancy hotels to use their pools and beaches.

Presidential Palace, built in 1970, is an interesting building that rises from the low-lying landscape of the city.

Best Time to Visit Libreville
The drier cooler months between June - August is the best time to visit Gabon, or the short dry period between December - January. It is warm and tropical year round.

Getting to and from Libreville
Most visitors will arrive by air, and land at the Leon M'ba International Airport in Libreville. Airlines with regular flights to Gabon include: Air France, KLM, Lufthansa and Emirates. Regional destinations are covered by: Gabon Airlines, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Royal Air Moroc, Rwandair Express and Kenya Airways.

Where to Stay in Libreville
Libreville is home to several European chain luxury hotels, all offer similar facilities at high prices. The better ones include: Le Meridien Re-Ndama, Résidence Le Maisha. Good options for those on a budget or paying their own way include: Hotel Tropicana, and Le Patio.

Sources and More about Libreville
Gabon Facts and Information
Africa Cup of Nations 2012
Libreville - Africa.com
Libreville, Wikipedia
Lonely Planet Guide to Libreville

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