Abomey

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Abomey is a city in the Zou Department of Benin, formerly the capital of the ancient kingdom of Dahomey. The kingdom was established about 1625. The commune covers an area of 142 square kilometres and as of 2002 had a population of 78,341 people.[1][2]

Contents

The Royal Palaces of Abomey

The royal palaces of Abomey are a group of earthen structures built by the Fon people between the mid-17th and late 19th Centuries. One of the most famous and historically significant traditional sites in West Africa, the palaces form one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The town was surrounded by a mud wall with a circumference estimated at six miles (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911), pierced by six gates, and protected by a ditch five feet deep, filled with a dense growth of prickly acacia, the usual defence of West African strongholds. Within the walls were villages separated by fields, several royal palaces, a market-place and a large square containing the barracks. In November 1892, Behanzin, the last independent reigning king of Dahomey, being defeated by French colonial forces, set fire to Abomey and fled northward. The French colonial administration rebuilt the town and connected it with the coast by a railroad.

When UNESCO designated the royal palaces of Abomey as a World Heritage Site in 1985 it stated

From 1993, 50 of the 56 bas-reliefs that formerly decorated the walls of King Glèlè (now termed the 'Salle des Bijoux') have been located and replaced on the rebuilt structure. The bas-reliefs carry an iconographic program expressing the history and power of the Fon people.

Today, the city is of less importance, but is still popular with tourists and as a centre for crafts.

Threats

As reported by UNESCO World Heritage News, the Royal Palaces of Abomey suffered from a fire on January 21, 2009, "which destroyed several buildings."[3] The fire was the most recent disaster which has plagued the site, coming after a powerful tornado damaged the site in 1984.[4]

Demographics

Gallery

"Important witchdoctors" (1908)

Dance of the Fon chiefs 1908

Young girl with wooden statue of mystic chair (1908)

Abomey in 2006

References

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