"Dahomey - Legendary Kingdom of the Powerful Kings" Abomey by janiebaxter

Abomey Travel Guide: 16 reviews and 41 photos

A town with a Fearful Reputation

Abomey is the capital of the kingdom that used to be known as Dahomey, in the 17th to 19th centuries, a place with a fearful reputation and as famous as Timbuctu in old Africa, full of Voodoo, magic, sacrifices and superstition. Few Europeans went to Dahomey and even fewer came back.
The name Dahomey was derived from French meaning "in the belly of Dan" because of the origins of the first king who was descended from Dan the serpent god, and is one the the most powerful and popular gods in Benin. As with most of Benin, Voodoo is the main religion in Abomey


Present day Abomey is actually a small, quiet and friendly town and one of the highlights of a trip to Benin for its history which is well documented in the excellent Royal Palace museum.
Abomey is about 100km North of Cotonou and it takes under half a day to get there by car.

The Kings of Slavery

During the slave trade the Dahomey Kingdom was the most powerful in the area due to the Kings of Abomey’s policy of waging war on all the surrounding kingdoms and selling their captives to the Europeans as slaves. They were ruthless in their pursuit of their enemies and the expansion of their kingdoms, and the most feared of their armies were the elite and highly trained amazon wariors.
The throne of King Ghezo, which you can see in the museum, sits on the skulls of 4 of his enemies!

From Palaces to Exile

There were 12 known and documented Kings of Dahomey ruling from 1610 to 1900, when the last King was exiled by the French. The main tourist attraction is the Palace of the Kings complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site where 12 of the Kings each had their palaces.
The Palace complex housed the Kings and all their wives, children, servants and slaves and each time a new King came to power he built a new Palace. The remaining palaces are those of Ghezo (1818-1858) and Glele(1858-1889).
The statue of King Ghebanzin stands in the main square. He fought the French and lost and was exiled to Martinique and then Algeria.

See my main Benin pages for more general information on Benin.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:UNESCO World heritage site museum, great history, quiet
  • Cons:None
  • In a nutshell:Fascinating history
  • Last visit to Abomey: Mar 2008
  • Intro Updated May 18, 2008
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Reviews (11)

Comments (4)

  • aussirose's Profile Photo
    Jan 25, 2009 at 7:20 PM

    I'm learning so much! Thanks for your tips & pix! :o) Great read! Cheers, Ann.

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    May 24, 2008 at 10:14 AM

    Lots of very interesting history in your Abomey page - it must have been quite an enjoyable little visit! Those large fruit bats reminded me of the many I saw while working in Papua New Guinea.

  • Basaic's Profile Photo
    May 13, 2008 at 3:31 PM

    very interesting page and tips.

  • ranger49's Profile Photo
    May 13, 2008 at 11:18 AM

    You are a long way from M/c! What an adventure. Lovely pics and history. A real Virtual Trip for me. Thanks.

janiebaxter

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