If you’re looking to immerse yourself in ancient Beninese history, one of the best places to start is Abomey. The name is mythical, and not without reason: Abomey, 144km northwest of Cotonou, was the capital of the fierce Dahomey Kingdom and a force colonial powers had to reckon with for centuries. Its winding lanes dotted with palaces and temples, Abomey is shrouded with a palpable historical aura and filled with character.
Musée Historique d’Abomey
Abomey’s main and seriously impressive attraction (and a World Heritage Site), this sprawling museum is housed in two palaces, those of the ancient kings Ghézo and Glélé. The museum displays royal thrones and tapestries, human skulls that were once used as musical instruments, fetish items and Ghézo’s throne, mounted on four real skulls of vanquished enemies.
The admission fee includes a guide (only French is spoken), who will take about an hour to show you around the courtyards, ceremonial rooms and burial chambers. The tour finishes at the Centre des Artisans, where you can buy appliqué banners.
Restaurants in Abomey
This delightful maquis is a winner. Marguerite prepares exquisite Beninese cuisine in a jovial atmosphere. She also prepares crêpes in the morning, with freshly ground coffee and a mountain of fruit. Yum! Chez Delphano is north of Rond-Point de la Préfecture.