Destination Nigeria : Benin City

No visit to South Western Nigeria is complete without a trip to the famous megacity of Benin, located in the heart of Edo State. Centre of the ancient Benin Empire (one of the most important and largely advanced cities in West Africa in the 13th century) is one of the oldest and most historically rich metropolises in Nigeria. The megacity was known for its skilled craftsmen, who produced intricate brass and bronze sculptures, as well as its vibrant business and well-organised administration.

The bustling city has a population of over one million people, and is home to a number of galleries which showcase its rich artistic history. It is also notorious for its carnivals and festivals, especially the annual Edo Festival, which features traditional music, cotillion, and artistic performances.

Benin is also an important centre of trade and commerce in Nigeria, with a strong agricultural sector and a growing technology sector, and is home to several universities and research institutions, including the University of Benin and the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research.

Benin is a popular tourist attraction because of its vast history and culture that seems to be embedded into every corner of the megacity, with multitudinous monuments and milestones that keep the past alive.

There are many sights in Benin that are a definite must-see on a trip, and we have compiled six of the most popular ones to get you started.

1. The Oba’s Palace, the traditional residence of the Oba (king) of Benin

The Oba’s Palace

It is a sprawling complex of structures dating back to the 17th century, all decorated with intricate busts and artwork. The palace is a significant, artistic and literal corner in Benin City and is open to visitors.

2. The Benin Moat

The Benin Moat

This is a complex network of earthworks and ditches, it surrounds the ancient megacity of Benin and was erected in the 13th century as a means of defence against raiders. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3. Somorika Hills

Somorika Hills

It is located about 40 km southeast of Benin City, these hills are believed to have been the home of ancient iron-smelting operations. They are also considered sacred by the native people, who believe that they are inhabited by spirits. Many people come from around the world to be healed by their spiritual powers.

4. The Benin City National Museum

The Benin City National Museum

This museum is devoted to the history and culture of the Benin Empire. It features a collection of artefacts, including brass and bronze sculptures, ivory busts, and traditional costumes. It is a great place to learn about the history of the Benin Empire and the people who lived there.

5. Okomu National Park

Okomu National Park

This park is located about an hour drive from Benin City and is home to a variety of wildlife, including mammoths, chimpanzees, and several species of monkeys. It is a great place to go on a safari and see these creatures up close.

6. Igun Street

Igun Street

This is well-known for its bronze casting shops, where famous craftsmen produce intricate sculptures using traditional styles, this road is a great place to see these craftsmen at work and purchase beautiful monuments to take home.

These are just a few of the most intriguing places, so you can be certain that you’ll find many more on your next trip to the fabulous city.

Also Read: Nigerian Traditional Arts And What You Should Know About Them