Edo, a state located in the south-south part of Nigeria or the Deltan region, has a long history of civilization. It is partly what remains of the once powerful and famous imperial Benin kingdom one of the most powerful Africa Empires during 15th and 16th century.
The Benin Empire authority and influence spreading to the coast of Benin republic, the Niger delta, the north west of Niger River and Onisha in the east. Benin City now serving as the headquarters of Oredo Local Government Area and the capital of Edo state was the power-house, seat of government and the capital of the ancient Empire. It’s also the origin and ancestral home of all the descendants of ancient Benin kingdom.
The Edo people pride themselves on their wealth of history and civilization. The arts of Benin Kingdom are global brand. Benin artefacts are among the most exquisite and coveted in world’s history which represents the earliest civilization among black specifically Africans.
The state has become a year-round tourist attraction. Here is a list of some fascinating places to visit:
1. The Oba of Benin Palace: Located in the heart of Benin city is the Oba of Benin’s Palace. It is one of the most popular sites in Edo state. The palace has been in existence since 900 AD. The current structure was built in 1914, and is actually one-tenth of the original palace which was destroyed by the British Forces. The palace has an array of local art and crafts, and historical pieces. No vacation in Benin City is complete without visiting the Oba of Benin palace.
2. Somorika Hills: Somorika is about five kilometers north east of Igarra and 165 kilometers from Benin City. The hills are a part of the rolling landscape of the Kukuruku Range. The beauty of the scenery is huge.
3. Ughoton: Ughoton is About 42kms from Benin City, historically very important to the Benins & Yoruba regarded by historians and researchers to be the “East” Oduduwa of Yoruba land migrated from.
4. The tombstone of Captain James Phillip: Located at Uruokhokho .It marks the spot where Captain Phillip and his party were killed and buried the event that led to the British invasion of Benin Empire in 1897.
5. Igun-Eronmwon quarters: If you are a lover of arts, then you should visit the Igun-Eronmwon quarters popularly known as Igun Street (listed as a Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO). It is home to the brass/bronze casting industries in Benin City. Feel free to admire, witness bronze casting from the various stages and purchase any piece of your choice.
6. The Local markets: Oba market. New Benin market, Agbado market, Osa market, Oliha market Ogiso market,Ikpoba hill market and Uselu market are all in Benin City. They are markets where you can interact with the locals and buy nice souvenirs.
7. Chief Ogiamen’s House: Chief Ogiamen’s house is located at No. 97, Sakponba Road in Benin City. It is a National Monument situated within the city walls and Moat (another historical monument). Built about 1130AD with great significance as the only building that predates the emergence of Obaship in Benin’s political organization and the only building that survived the 1897 British expedition and siege. It was declared a National Monument on May 26th, 1959.
8. National Museum, Benin City: Learn more about the city’s history and culture by visiting its museum. This national museum is home to various antiques and bronze artwork originally from the ancient Benin Kingdom.
9. The Benin Moat: The Benin Moat also known as ‘Iya’ is the largest man made earthwork in the world. Indeed, one of the wonders of the world that you should see. It predates the use of modern earth moving equipments or technology in these parts. The moat encircles the perimeter of the city and was constructed as a defensive barrier in times of war. Oba Oguola (about 1280-1295) dug the first and second moats to fortify the city from invaders.
10. Okomu National park is located in Ovia South Local Government Area of Edo state. It’s some 45 kilometres west of Benin City. The park houses a rare species in the world today. That rare species is a white throated monkey. The park is also home to other animals which include; buffaloes, chimpanzees, elephants, porcupine, monkeys, antelopes, birds and several others.
11. Ososo tourist centre: Ososo tourist centre offers one a rare opportunity. That opportunity is having a spectacular view of two states in Nigeria. Ososo is a hilly and rocky town. It is located on the boundary between Edo and Kogi states. The centre has a rest house at the top of Ososo hill.
12. Igun Bronze Casters And Crafts Centre: This is the home of brass and bronze castings in Nigeria. It is so peculiar to Edo state. If you really want to see the best of bronze and brass arts, then you should visit the Igun crafts centre. It is located at Igun Street. It has been listed as a Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO.