Abomey is a city in the Zou Department of Benin. Abomey is also the former capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey (c. 1600–1904), which would later become a French colony, then the Republic of Dahomey (1960–1975), and is the modern-day Republic of Benin.

Abomey houses the Royal Palaces of Abomey, a collection of small traditional houses that were inhabited by the Kings of Dahomey from 1600 to 1900, and which were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.

The commune of Abomey covers an area of 142 square kilometres and as of 2012 had a population of 90,195 people.[1][2]

A street of Abomey in 2017
A street of Abomey in 2017
Abomey is located in Benin
Location in Benin
Coordinates: 7°11′8″N 1°59′17″E / 7.18556°N 1.98806°ECoordinates: 7°11′8″N 1°59′17″E / 7.18556°N 1.98806°E
DepartmentZou Department
 • Total142 km2 (55 sq mi)
221 m (725 ft)
 • Total90,195
 • Density640/km2 (1,600/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (WAT)

The Royal Palaces of Abomey

Royal Palaces of Abomey
Royal Palaces of Abomey-133495
Exhibition, 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 10 kilometres (6 mi), 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, Béhanzin, the last independent reigning king of Dahomey, being defeated by French colonial forces, set fire to Abomey and fled northward.[3] 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 1625 to 1900 twelve kings succeeded one another at the head of the powerful Kingdom of Abomey. With the exception of King Akaba, who used a separate enclosure, they each had their palaces built within the same cob-wall area, in keeping with previous palaces as regards the use of space and materials. The royal palaces of Abomey are a unique reminder of this vanished kingdom.

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.


As reported by UNESCO, the Royal Palaces of Abomey suffered from a fire on 21 January 2009 "which destroyed several buildings."[4] The fire was the most recent disaster which has plagued the site, coming after a powerful tornado damaged the site in 1984.[5]


Year Population[6]
1860s 24 000
1979 38 412
1992 65 725
2002 77 997
2008 (estimate) 87 344
2012 90 195


Celebration at Abomey.- Important witchdoctors

"Important witchdoctors" (1908)

The célébration at Abomey(1908). - Dance of the Fon chiefs

Dance of the Fon chiefs 1908

The celebration at Abomey. - Young girl with wooden statue of mystic chair

Young girl with wooden statue of mystic chair (1908)

Abomey-Palais du Gouverneur (1)

Town Hall, located in the former Governor's Palace

Royal Palaces of Abomey-133471

One of the royal palaces.

Office du Tourisme d'Abomey et Région

Tourist Office of Abomey.

See also


  1. ^ "Abomey". Atlas Monographique des Communes du Benin. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  2. ^ "Communes of Benin". Statoids. Archived from the original on 2 January 2010. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  3. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Abomey" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 67.
  4. ^ UNESCO World Heritage news, 13 February 2009
  5. ^ "State of Conservation: Royal Palaces of Abomey (Benin)". UNESCO. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  6. ^ "Abomey". World Gazetteer. Retrieved 2008-12-19.

External links


Abomey-Calavi is a city, arrondissement, and commune located in the Atlantique Department of Benin. It is mainly suburban to the city of Cotonou and at its closest it begins approximately 18 km from the city centre of Cotonou. The main cities are Abomey-Calavi itself and Godomey to the south. The commune covers an area of 650 square kilometres and as at the May 2013 Census had a population of 655,965 people.


Agbangnizoun is a town, arrondissement, and commune in the Zou Department of south-western Benin. The town lies 20 kilometres south-east of Abomey. The commune covers an area of 244 square kilometres and as of 2002 had a population of 55,001 people.


Agoli-agbo is considered to have been the twelfth and final King of Dahomey. He took the throne after the previous king, Béhanzin, went into exile after being defeated in the invasion of Dahomey by France in the Second Franco-Dahomean War. He was in power from 1894 to 1900.

The exile of Béhanzin did not legalize the French colonization. The French general Alfred Dodds offered the throne to every one of the immediate royal family, in return for a signature on a treaty establishing a French protectorate over the Kingdom; all refused. Finally, Béhanzin's Army Chief of Staff Prince Agoli-agbo, brother of Béhanzin and son of King Glélé, signed. He was appointed to the throne, as a 'traditional chief' rather than head of state of a sovereign nation, by the French when he agreed to sign the instrument of surrender. He 'reigned' for only six years, assisted by a French Viceroy. The French prepared for direct administration, which they achieved on February 12, 1900. Agoli-agbo went into exile in Gabon. In 1910, he was allowed to return and to live in the Save-Region. He occasionally returned to Abomey in order to perform ancestor worship for the departed kings.

Agoli-agbo's symbols are a leg kicking a rock, a bow (a symbol of the return to traditional weapons under the new rules established by the colonial administrators), and a broom.


Bohicon is a city in Benin, and a conurbation of Abomey lying 9 kilometres east of the city on the railway line from Cotonou to Parakou and on Benin's main highway RNIE 2 which joins the RNIE 4. The commune covers an area of 139 square kilometres and as of 2002 had a population of 113,091 people.Bohicon is the crossroads of international trade at the center of Benin. Bohicon is an important in communications in Benin and branches to the various departments of the country, including to the north of Benin and on to Niger or Burkina Faso and even Togo or Nigeria. Bohicon is a relatively new city compared to Abomey and Allada and was founded in the 20th century with the installation of the railway station on the Cotonou–Parakou railway and the central market.


Béhanzin (1844 – December 10, 1906) is considered the eleventh (if Adandozan is not counted) King of Dahomey, modern-day Benin. Upon taking the throne, he changed his name from Kondo.


The Kingdom of Dahomey () was an African kingdom (located within the area of the present-day country of Benin) that existed from about 1600 until 1894, when the last king, Béhanzin, was defeated by the French, and the country was annexed into the French colonial empire. Dahomey developed on the Abomey Plateau amongst the Fon people in the early 17th century and became a regional power in the 18th century by conquering key cities on the Atlantic coast.

For much of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Kingdom of Dahomey was a key regional state, eventually ending tributary status to the Oyo Empire. The Kingdom of Dahomey was an important regional power that had an organized domestic economy built on conquest and slave labor, significant international trade with Europeans, a centralized administration, taxation systems, and an organized military. Notable in the kingdom were significant artwork, an all-female military unit called the Dahomey Amazons by European observers, and the elaborate religious practices of Vodun with the large festival of the Annual Customs of Dahomey. They traded prisoners, which they captured during wars and raids, and exchanged them with Europeans for goods such as knives, bayonets, firearms, fabrics, and spirits.

Jocelyn Ahouéya

Jocelyn Ahouéya (born 19 December 1985) is a Beninese footballer. He last played for SC Schiltigheim.

Junior Salomon

Salomon Junior (born 8 April 1986 in Abomey) is a Beninese football player who currently plays for Plateau United.

King of Dahomey

The King of Dahomey (Ahosu in the Fon language) was the ruler of the Kingdom of Dahomey, in the southern part of present-day Benin, which lasted from 1600 until 1900 when the French abolished the political authority of the Kingdom. The rulers served a prominent position in Fon ancestor worship leading the Annual Customs and this important position caused the French to bring back the exiled king of Dahomey for ceremonial purposes in 1910. Since 2000, there have been rival claimants as king and there has so far been no political solution. The Palace and seat of government were in the town of Abomey. Early historiography of the King of Dahomey presented them as absolute rulers who formally owned all property and people of the kingdom. However, recent histories have emphasized that there was significant political contestation limiting the power of the king and that there was a female ruler of Dahomey, Hangbe, who was largely written out of early histories.

Nestor Assogba

Nestor Assogba (February 21, 1929 – August 22, 2017) was a Beninese Roman Catholic archbishop.

Assogba was born in Abomey. He was ordained as a priest on December 21, 1957 and appointed Bishop of Parakou on April 10, 1976. He was ordained on July 25 of that year. He served as Archbishop of Parakou from October 16, 1997 until October 29, 1999 when he was appointed Archbishop of Cotonou. He served in Cotonou for 5 and a half years before retiring from service on March 5, 2005.


RNIE 2 is a national highway of Benin. It is Benin's main north-south highway which runs the entire 785 km down the centre of the country from the Niger River to Cotonou. The RNIE 2 crosses the RNIE 4 at Bohicon east of Abomey.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Abomey

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Abomey (Latin: Dioecesis Abomeiensis) is a diocese located in the city of Abomey in the Ecclesiastical province of Cotonou in Benin.

Royal Palaces of Abomey

The Royal Palaces of Abomey are 12 palaces spread over an area of 40 hectares (100 acres) at the heart of the Abomey town in Benin, formerly the capital of the West African Kingdom of Dahomey. The Kingdom was founded in 1625 by the Fon people who developed it into a powerful military and commercial empire, which dominated trade with European slave traders on the Slave Coast until the late 19th century, to whom they sold their prisoners of war. At its peak the palaces could accommodate for up to 8000 people. The King's palace included a two-story building known as the "cowrie house" or akuehue. Under the twelve kings who succeeded from 1625 to 1900, the kingdom established itself as one of the most powerful of the western coast of Africa.

UNESCO had inscribed the palaces on the List of World Heritage Sites in Africa. Following this, the site had to be included under the List of World Heritage in Danger since Abomey was hit by a tornado on 15 March 1984, when the royal enclosure and museums, particularly the King Guezo Portico, the Assins Room, King's tomb and Jewel Room were damaged. However, with assistance from several international agencies the restoration and renovation work was completed. Based on the corrective works carried out and reports received on these renovations at Abomey, UNESCO decided to remove the Royal Palaces of Abomey, Benin from the List of World Heritage in Danger, in July 2007.Today, the palaces are no longer inhabited, but those of King Ghézo and King Glélé house the Historical Museum of Abomey, which illustrates the history of the kingdom and its symbolism through a desire for independence, resistance and fight against colonial occupation.


Sèhoun is an arrondissement in the Zou department of Benin. It is an administrative division under the jurisdiction of the commune of Abomey. According to the population census conducted by the Institut National de la Statistique Benin on February 15, 2002, the arrondissement had a total population of 2,826.

University of Abomey-Calavi

The University of Abomey-Calavi ((in French) Université d'Abomey-Calavi) is the principal university in the country of Benin, in Abomey-Calavi. The school is composed of 19 institutions and six campuses.

Wassiou Oladipupo

Wassiou Okalawom Oladipupo (born 17 December 1983 in Abomey) is a Beninese footballer who plays for Feni SC.


Zagnanado or Zangnanado is a town, arrondissement, and commune in the Zou Department of southern-central Benin. It is located 47 kilometres from Abomey and 165 kilometres north of Cotonou. The commune covers an area of 750 square kilometres and as of 2013 had a population of 132,401 people.

Zou Department

Zou is one of the twelve departments of Benin. The department obtains its name from the Zou River which travels through the department before emptying into the Atlantic in the south of the country. The majority of the population are the Fon people with 91% population, while Aja people make up 4% and Yoruba make up 3% of the populace. The departement of Zou was split in 1999 with the northern territory moved to the newly created Collines Department. The capital of Zou is Abomey. Zou is subdivided into nine communes, each centered at one of the principal towns, namely, Abomey, Agbangnizoun, Bohicon, Cové, Djidja, Ouinhi, Za-Kpota, Zangnanado and Zogbodomey.

Per 2013 census, the total population of the department was 851,580 with 407,030 males and 444,550 females. The proportion of women was 52.20 per cent. The total rural population was 67.00 percent, while the urban population was 33.00 per cent. The total labor force in the department was 275,249 out of which 50.10 per cent were women. The proportion of households with no level of education was 60.70 and the proportion of households with children attending school was 72.90.

Alibori Department
Atakora Department
Atlantique Department
Borgou Department
Collines Department
Donga Department
Kouffo Department
Littoral Department
Mono Department
Ouémé Department
Plateau Department
Zou Department

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