The 5 best places to visit in Benin

 

Completed in 1925, in the extreme south east of the country close to the border with Nigeria in the countries capital, Porto Novo, is one of Benin's most important historical buildings, the Great Mosque. Like many of the cities historical buildings it is under threat from modernization, with large urban developments taking place endangering the urban heritage of the capital. Built by the African/Brazilian community and seen as the icon of Porto Novo, the mosque has been declared an historic monument.

5. The Great Mosque Of Porto Novo

In the southern centre of the country, in the town of Abomey are the Royal Palaces Of Abomey, the cloistered site of twelve opulent palaces built by the twelve rulers of the kingdom. Formerly the capital of the West African Kingdom of Dahomey, between 1695 AD and 1900 it was a powerful military and commercial empire that dominated trade with European slave traders. Having been hit by a tornado in the mid 1980's, the royal palaces have undergone restoration and renovation, returning it to its former state. As the symbolic and cultural hub of one of the most powerful kingdoms ever to come out of West Africa, the Palaces Of Abomey have been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Royal Palaces Of Abomey

In the extreme southern centre of the country, west of the capital, Porto Novo, and just north of the Atlantic Coast is Lake Nokoué, famed for the large lake village of Ganvie. Created during the 16th and 17th centuries by the Tofinu people, it was seen as the best way to avoid capture by Fon warriors and being sold to European slave traders. Today as a popular tourist destination, Ganvie village represents the largest lake village in Africa.

3. Ganvie

 

In the extreme north west of the country, straddling the border with the adjoining Arli National Park in Burkina Faso is the 2,755 square kilometre (1,064 square mile) Pendjari National Park. The landscape of rocky cliffs, large forests, savannas and grasslands is known for its wildlife, home to the last big populations of African forest elephants, West African lion, hippopotamus, buffalo and antelopes in Western Africa. The entire protected area has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2. Pendjari National Park

 

In the extreme north east of the country where the Niger River meanders in a giant 'W' shape is the aptly named W National Park, crossing the borders and connecting with protected areas in Niger and Burkina Faso it is part of the 10,000 square kilometre (3,861 square mile) W Transborder Park. Such as the connected Pendjari National Park to the west, the protected area is home to some of the most impressive species of wildlife in West Africa, including aardvark, baboon, African buffalo, African bush elephant, hippopotamus, West African lion, African leopard and one of the last strongholds for the Northwest African cheetah. W National Park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1. W National Park

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