The royal palaces of Yoruba, one of Nigeria’s largest ethnic groups, are notable for their distinctive architecture. The royal courtyards of Yoruba kings depict the ethnic group’s political authority, religious values, and social life.
The courtyard is the foundation of traditional Yoruba architecture. The palaces of Yoruba kings are built in the same style and design as those in its traditional home of Ile-Ife.
According to oral history, the first palace built at Ilea, a large town about 25 kilometers south of Ile-Ife, was supervised by one of the princes who traveled from the traditional home to keep an eye on the project, according to University of Florida research.
The laid-out plan for erecting Yoruba palaces even influences how ordinary Yoruba families build their houses.
Cooking, eating, sleeping, storing food, and protecting animals at night are all separate structures in general family compounds.
The spirit of Yoruba architecture is maintained regardless of whether the structure is round, rectangular, or semi-circular. A Yoruba structure must always be built to conform to the social background, with the exception of palaces and shrines, which must be built with the social order in mind.
The palace is designed with the idea that the courtyard should be large enough to accommodate the entire community.
It represents wealth, prosperity, beliefs, and cultural property. These palaces are made up of a series of courtyards, each flanked by four rectangular units. Yoruba palaces are typically built against a backdrop forest that is reserved for the king’s outdoor activities.
The akodi enyinropo are some of the courtyards. It is the yard where Ilesa’s ruler, Owa Obokun, performs his customs and rituals. It is a sacred place where the king and his attendants keep vigil.
The next courtyard is the Ode Odu. It is a base where the palace’s occupants meet for important matters. It has a concrete-shaped podium where the king occasionally sits to render judgment on an issue brought before him. This courtyard contains a sword that is literally placed there for oath-taking and is used in cases where the king is required to administer an oath.
The Ode Yanrin courtyard serves as a platform for meeting in the inner parts of the palace for the elders of Yoruba. This is the courtyard where the king and his elders hold private meetings and while away time.
The Adjoniibii courtyard is one of the in-house structures that can be accessed through a door overlooking the ode yanrin courtyard.
This courtyard’s floor is paved with concrete and lacks pillar posts. The roof structure’s ability to shield the courtyard from the sun while still allowing sufficient light and fresh air to enter is an intriguing and significant feature.
The courtyard of Ogun in Yoruba architecture has the largest concrete floor surface and has a touch of modernity in its design.