Voodoo rites in the Venice of Africa
Benin is a country located in the Gulf of Guinea, between Nigeria and Togo. Its coasts symbolize the colonial history of Africa. The Portuguese created ports and forts during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries to trade gold, ivory and slaves with the local sovereigns. Despite its tough historical beginnings, Benin is a lively country looking to the future with pride preserving its cultural roots and respect for the ancestors.
The former French Dahomey has a surface similar to that of Portugal. Despite its relatively small size, Benin has an amazing cultural and natural diversity. More importantly Benin is the cradle of Voodoo and a country where the visitor will experience real Africa.
10 REASONS TO VISIT BENIN
- The lakes and estuaries in the South of Benin host very interesting floating cities. Ganvié is the biggest of these lake towns as it has been baptised as the ‘African Venice’.
- The animist cults practiced by a large percentage of the population of Benin. In most villages of southern and central Benin the traveller can observe cult temples where the African gods are honoured. The main traditional religion is Voodoo, and Ouidah the world’s Voodoo capital.
- The dramatic and exciting history of the slave trade. The southwest coast of Benin is known as the Slave Coast. Remnants of this dramatic past can still be observed in the road between Allada and the Atlantic coast.
- The rich legacy of architectural style known as “Afro-Brazilian” (mansions built by freed slaves) in cities such as Porto Novo, Ouidah and Grand Popó.
- Interesting fetish markets in Cotonou (Dantokpa) and Bohicon. On these markets one can find from dog skulls to lizard tails to prepare amulets.
- The Abomey Royal Palace and museum of the kings of the Fon Kingdom, world heritage site by UNESCO.
- In the villages around Gbanamé, the traveller can attend the spectacular Gueledé masked dances (intangible heritage of UNESCO).
- Nature lovers can hike around the Atakora Mountains and organise a safari in the Pendjari National Park, both in North Benin.
- When visiting the northern region of Benin you can’t miss the mud villages of Taneka Coco and castle-like tata homes of the Somba people.
- Most of Benin’s Atlantic coast is still untouched. During certain periods of the year one can observe whales from the shore. Some of the best beaches are found around Grand Popo, not far from the Togo border.