After gaining independence from France, the Ivory Coast reached its economic boom during the 60s and 70s, and it was during that period when the current president, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, ordered a built of an impressive monument which was completely based on the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This monumental edifice still stands to this day in the home town of the aforementioned president, in the city of Yamoussoukro.
Houphouët-Boigny’s goal was to modernize the city by building various landmarks within it and for that reason he hired to famous French-Lebanese architect, Pierre Fakhoury, to lead the project. It resulted in building new roads, a new airport, palaces and the crown jewel of it all was the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace which was directly designed according to the original Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.
This piece of art spans on a surface of around 30.000 square kilometers, and contains details like a 50 kilogram golden cross built inside it. The only enquiry and thus the only change that the Vatican requested was that the dome of the replica be built slightly lower than the original.
It took nearly five years and around 300 million US dollars for the basilica to be built. In the meantime, the Ivory Coast, Africa started facing economical struggles and slipped into a financial crisis, which eventually lead to the outbreak of war.
The Pope agreed to bless the monument, which many people regarded as vulgar and blasphemous project, but only under one condition, the authorities needed to build a hospital right beside the basilica. The founding stone to this hospital was set during the Pope’s visit, but unfortunately, the project of building a hospital to this day has yet to reach its end.
With a failing state economy so did the small town of Yamoussoukro started going down a slippery slope and reached its demise. And currently, the only thing to show for, instead of a stable infrastructure, the city can only boast with a hyper luxurious basilica.