When you hear of Benin Republic, the first place that comes to mind is Cotonou or Porto Novo. Well, the capital of the Republic of Benin or République du Bénin in French isPorto Novo, but the seat of government is Cotonou. The main languages spoken in the country is French, Fon, and Yoruba.
Located in West Africa, Benin Republic is formerly known as Dahomey; and it is bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. It has a population of about 10 million people, and it got its independence from France in 1960.
Things to do and places to visit in Benin Republic :
1. Cotonou Cathedral
The cathedral of Notre Dame of Misericorde is largely known as Cotonou Cathedral. It is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cotonou, and built in 1883 close to the Ancien Pont bridge. The burgundy and white tiled architecture of the ancient church is its mouth outstanding feature. It is a place to worship in or visit if you happen to visit the Cotonou.
2. Ancien Pont
Constructed in 1928 and renovated in 1981, the Ancien Pont bridge in Cotonou is a great water feature of the city. The long and extended bridge crosses the Lagune de Cotonou, bridging the two sides of the city by joining them together via the bridge. It is a bridge you might like to use if you ever find yourself in this side of the city.
3. Stade de L’Amitie
With a capacity for 35,000 seated people, the Stade de l’Amitie or Friendship Stadium in Cotonou is a multi-purpose stadium that must be visited for the best of spectacular football matches among other sporting activities. There are also facilities for athletics and other kinds of sports, and be sure to be at the Stade de l’Amitie if there is a match scheduled to hold at the stadium.
4. Royal Palace, Porto-Novo
Situated in Porto Novo, the Royal Palace is also known as King Toffa’s Palace. It is the former residence of the king, but now converted to a museum and named the Musee Honme. Most of the artifacts in the museum are related to the times of the former dynasties and tell a lot about the cultural past of the Beninoise.
5. Pendjari National Park
The Pendjari National Park was nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in March 2009, and it is situated northwest of the country, close to the Arli National Park of adjoining Burkina Faso. The park is named after the Pendjari River, and covers about 2,755 sq km of land. It is a home to a vast number of wildlife, among which are buffaloes, antelopes, West African lions, elephants, and birds among others. You will enjoy quality time at this park if you visit via the hills and cliffs of the Atakora range, which provide a scenic and wonderful backdrop of the park.
6. Royal Palaces of Abomey
The Royal Palaces of Abomey are 12 palaces spread over 20 hectares or 99 acres of land, within Abomey town in what used to be the capital of the city when the country was still known as Dahomey. The kingdom was founded by the Fon people in 1625, and it rose to become a powerful and commercial empire. The 12 kings that lived in the palaces ruled between 1625 and 1900, and the palaces were listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
7. Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
Located in Ouidah, Cotonou, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception or Basilique de l’Immaculée Conception was dedicated in November 1989, and under the authority of the Archdiocese of Cotonou. This is a church you’d want to visit if you happen to find yourself in Ouidah.
8. W National Park
The W National Park or W Regional Park was created in August 1954 and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The park is jointly governed by the governments of Niger, Benin Republic, and Burkina Faso because the park runs through the three countries. It is named “W” national or regional park because it works itself through River Niger in the shape of “W”.
9. Musée en Plein Air de Parakou
Situated about 1.5 kilometres south of Parakou, the Musée en Plein Air de Parakou is a museum that is made up of five round complexes constructed in the traditional fashion of the Batanou people. Although a lot still needs to be done to make this museum live up to its name, it is a place of interest that must be noted down for a visit.
10. Alexandre Sènou Adandé Ethnographic Museum
Based out of Porto Novo, the Alexandre Sènou Adandé Ethnographic Museum was established in 1957 by the Dahomey Institute. It is a museum that tells the history of the people, and a point of tourist attraction that must be checked out by any visitors to the area.