Exploring Banjul's colourful and chaotic Royal Albert Market

Updated on Dec 21, 2016 by Kathryn Burrington

Blog > Exploring Banjul's colourful and chaotic Royal Albert Market

The noise of people bartering, the smell of the fish, the dust, the colour – all your senses will be bombarded as you wind your way around the labyrinth of alleyways lined with ramshackle stalls.

The Royal Albert Market on Liberation Avenue in Banjul, was named after Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, and it is a fascinating place to explore, made up of three distinct markets.

The tourist market selling clothes, jewellery, arts and crafts, is much like any other of the many markets dotted around the coastal tourist areas, aimed specifically at visitors to The Gambia. This part of Royal Albert Market, however, is not the main attraction, although I still enjoy chatting to the stall holders and haggling over a few gifts to take home.

In contrast, a wander around the other two markets, will give you a real insight into Gambian life.

The produce market, selling fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, is possibly best avoided by the squeamish, although I, like many others, find it a really interesting, if rather smelly, place to wander. Smoked fish, dried hibiscus flowers for making wonjo juice, peanuts being mashed into a sauce, great slabs of meat – you’ll see it all here.

The wholesale market next door, sells almost anything else you can think of, from clothing to plastic buckets. The makeshift stalls are tightly packed together, one selling second hand bras, another fake branded training shoes and the next gourds, tins and old plastic bottles that are purchased before filling them to the brim when buying food stuffs from the produce market.

It can be very busy and chaotic and the narrow lanes between the stalls form a giant maze that’s easy to get lost in, so the best way to explore is to go with a local guide. If you have arrived by taxi your driver may be happy to escort you or he will find a guide for you.

Please always ask permission before taking any photographs of anyone. Not everyone will agree and be aware that some may ask for payment.

Be sure to ask to see the machinists sewing intricate embroidered patterns onto colourful dresses. It really is very clever. Another aspect that is easy to miss is the riverbank behind the market. Here you’ll find boats large and small bringing in the catch. You can also see where the fish is smoked before being sold in the market.

 

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