Tourist Attractions

SOME TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN BENIN

The Republic of Benin, formerly the Republic of Dahomey, is a multifaceted country that is full of important tourist attractions. The tourism offers of Benin are very varied, with the possibility of practising all kinds of tourism, including cultural tourism, seaside tourism, ecotourism, agro-tourism, religious tourism and handicrafts.
Examples of renowned tourist attractions in Benin are the following:

ROYAL PALACES

1

Royal Palaces in Abomey

Historic capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey, located 135 km from Cotonou, Abomey was founded in the sixteenth century by King Houégbadja. From 1625 to 1900, twelve (12) Kings reigned on the throne of the powerful Kingdom of Dahomey. The most famous of them all is King Béhanzin who fought fiercely against the French colonial invasion before surrendering to the troops of General Alfred Amedee Dodds. He was subsequently deported to Martinique and then to Blida in Algeria, where he died in 1906.

2

Royal Palace – HONME Museum in Porto-Novo

Porto-Novo is the capital city of the Republic of Benin. The city is home to “Honmè” Museum, once the Palace of King Toffa, the first to sign a protectorate treaty with the French to protect his kingdom against attacks from his rival of Abomey, King Béhanzin. Another museum, the “Alexandre SENOU ADANDE” Ethnographic Museum is also established in the city.

MUSEUMS

3

Historic Museum of Ouidah

Former Portuguese Fort, a transit point for African slaves, the fortress of Ouidah is now converted into a museum where the history of Dahomey, voodoo traditions and slavery is highlighted.
Website: http://www.museeouidah.org

4

Ethnographic Museum of Porto-Novo

The Porto-Novo Ethnographic Museum is the first museum of Benin. Created in 1966 by the former Institute of Applied Research of Dahomey (IRAD) from the collections made by the Regional Centre of the French Institute of Black Africa (IFAN), the Museum is established in a colonial-style building. Visitors can observe Guèlèdè masks, wooden sculptures, “Fâ” divination trays, musical instruments, knives and guns.

GAME PARKS

5

National W Game Park – Benin

Between savanna and forest, the National W Park spans the borders of Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger over more than one million hectares. It alone represents the biodiversity of the region and gives the traveler the chance to explore the varied wildlife of West Africa.
Website: www.parc-w-benin.net

6

National Pendjari Game Park

The Pendjari Park is part of the largest protected reserve of West Africa, in the same geographical area as the National W Park. The Park alone covers 480,000 hectares. Named biosphere reserve since 1986, the Park hosts an extremely rich ecosystem.
Website: www.pendjari.net

ECOTOURISM

7

The Lake City of Ganvié

The Lake City of Ganvié is nicknamed “Venice of Africa”. A fishing village with bamboo houses, Ganvié was built inside a lagoon on Lake Nokoué. The city has restaurants, hotels, a floating market and many other attractions.
www.ganvie-hotelgermain.com
http://mb-groupe.com/mb-hotel-ganvie/

8

Songhaï Centre

The Songhai Regional Centre was established in October 1985 in Porto-Novo by the Dominican Priest, Father Godfrey Nzamujo, in order to contribute to food self-sufficiency in Africa. The principle of this centre, namely “Nothing is lost, everything is transformed” is actively implemented by green and sustainable production practices. The experiment is so successful that it was replicated in other regions of Benin and Africa.
Website: www.songhai.org

HISTORY OF SLAVERY

9

“Chacha” Slave Auctioning Square

This Square is located in the city of Ouidah. It was the place where slaves were auctioned and sold for deportation to the Americas.

10

The Tree of Oblivion

The slaves bound for the Americas were forced to turn around the tree, seven times for women and nine times for men. In doing so, they were supposed to forget their past, so they are not tempted to flee and return to their homelands.

11

“ZOMAI” place of detention

The memorial represents the place where slaves were kept, pending the arrival of slave ships. This place of detention was always in darkness, hence the name “Zomaï” in Fongbe language, that is to say, “light does not go there”.

12

The Door of No Return

The Door of No Return is situated on the beach of Ouidah where slaves were embarked onto slave ships bound to the Americas.

CULTURAL ATTRACTIONS

13

The Temple of Pythons – Ouidah

At the entrance of the city of Ouidah, there is the Temple of Pythons where those sacred animals are worshipped. The temple faces the Basilica of Ouidah, a symbol of religious tolerance that prevails in Benin.

14

GUÈLÈDÈ masks

Guèlèdè masks pertain to the Yoruba cultural area. In the City of Kétou, Guèlèdè is supposed to protect its members from disease and death, and ensure their happiness, wealth and fertility. Women are at the heart of the symbolic and ritual expression of Guèlèdè.
The Guèlèdè is listed by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008.

15

Zangbéto

The Zangbeto or “night watchman” is a kind of night police created by King Tê Agbanlin, Founder of the city of Porto-Novo. In addition to its usual nightlife, Zangbeto performs mystical dances and demonstrations at cultural events. The Zangbeto is now widespread throughout the southern region of Benin and also in Togo.

FESTIVALS

16

Voodoo Day

Benin is the birthplace of Voodoo religious traditions. Voodoo is deeply rooted in the Beninese and Togolese cultures. Every January 10th, endogenous religions are celebrated in Benin and many cultural and religious events are held.

17

Gani Festival

Each year in December, the city of Nikki in northern Benin holds Gani festivities celebrating the cultural identity of Baatonu people. The Festival lasts seven days during which the Bariba King of Nikki receives gifts from all the Chiefs in his Kingdom and other Bariba Kings in Kouandé, Kandi and Banikoara, who come to pledge allegiance.
Young princes are inducted during a head shaving ceremony. Horse races are organized while the sounds of sacred drums and copper trumpets resound.

18

Nonvitcha Festival

Nonvitcha is the oldest festive association in Benin. Indeed, created in 1921, it gathers Xwla and Xwéda peoples every year around various cultural and commemorative events in the city of Grand Popo.

19

Festival of Yams

Yam is an agricultural product of choice in the centre of Benin. It is the staple food and has a cultural value rooted in local traditions. On August 15th of each year, the region, particularly the city of Savalou, vibrates to the rhythm of the Festival of Yams during which many culinary, cultural and leisure activities are organized.

HANDICRAFTS

20

Drums of Adjarra

The city of Adjarra is located a few kilometers from Porto-Novo. It is known for the expertise of its artisans in the production of drums, raffia furniture, castanets, etc.

21

Artisans of Abomey

Handicraft is very popular in the historic city of Abomey. Paintings of all kinds, wooden and metal sculptures and decorative objects are available to tourists.

Please visit the following websites for more information on Benin’s tourist attractions:

www.tourismebenin.bj
www.benin-tourisme.com
www.portailculturebenin.com