Benin City is the main town in Edo state of Nigeria, it’s like the heart of the state, it is also were the government of the state is located. Benin has a very rich history and culture which dates back to centuries ago.
Popularly referred to as the ancient City because of all its history, the Benin people have a way of life which is different to that of other parts of Nigeria, because they see themselves as the people who started civilization in Nigeria, looking at the city in the present day, evidence of this claim cannot be seen in the city.
In this article I hope to introduce you to the top 5 must visit places in Benin City.
The Benin Moat.
The people of Benin, also known as descendants of igodomigodo built the moats around the city as a defensive mechanism in the wars the fought. The very first and second moat were dug by Oba Oguola in around 1280-1295 which then gave rise to over 20 moats around Benin city.
The Benin moat also referred to as the Walls of Benin were so big that it was said to be the largest man-made structure in the world by scientists.
But when the British came in 1897, in a bid to modernise the City some structure of the moat were scattered, and as civilisation got better some have even been converted to real estates or roads, but there are still some patches of it in the city.
For example the picture on the moat you can see below was very long that due to civilization a road has been built across it and both sides taken over by Hausa iron benders who deal in scrap metals
The Benin National Museum
The Benin City National Museum is located at the heart of the city, know as the Kings Square.
The Museum has so many historical artifacts of the great Benin kingdom. You would see so many bronze figure heads of past Obas of the kingdom, it also has military gears said to be used by great war lords of the kingdom.
To get into the gallery of the Benin museum, you are required to pay a token of N100 to have a look around the 3 floors filled with artifacts. But after that when you go round you would be forced to say N100 was too small for what you just saw. I must say it was amazing seeing real things used by people from centuries ago.
Igun Street – Home of Bronze Casting
The people of Benin are known for their bronze casting art work.
Igun street in Benin city is located at Sakponba road, as you enter the street you would see it written boldly “Home of Guild of Benin Bronze Casters World Heritage Site”
There are so many art shops in the street and what they mostly do is bronze art work of past obas that ruled the state, in some parts of the street there also wooden carvings done by well skilled craft men.
Before the British people came no single individual was allowed to make bronze art work in the city, it was all controlled by the Oba. But things are different now as tourist are allowed to admire bronze casting from the production stage to the finished stage.
The Ring Road
The Ring Road is located in the heart of the city, also known as the kings Square is where the Palace of the Oba of Benin is Located. The Ring Road is also a business zone for traders of so many goods, the popular market called “The Oba Market” is one of the largest markets in the city.
The Ring Road is also where the National Museum and the Edo State House of Assembly are located, it’s widely said that you can access any part of the state if you start from the Ring Road.
The Ogba Zoo.
The Ogba Zoological garden in Benin is located in Ogba which is down the airport road after the airport.
The Zoo was abandoned for years and was just recently revamped and so the Ogba zoo doesn’t really have animals that would make the hair on the back of your neck stand. But the zoo still holds the some basic animals that a zoo should have, like a horse, a kite, a lion etc.
The most intriguing animal i came across was tortoise of over 200 years old, looked big and yet so fresh.
If you ever find yourself self in Edo state, I think you have to come down to Benin city and see any of these 5 places for your self, and you would see why the place is referred to as “the cradle of black civilization”