The historic Royal Palaces of Abomey are evidence of the existence of the West African Kingdom of Dahomey which developed from the mid-17th century.

Crowned as a World Heritage Site, the Royal Palaces of Abomey are a group of monuments of  12 palaces of great historical and cultural value, spread over 40 hectares of land.

Situated at the heart of the Abomey town in Benin, formerly the capital of the West African Kingdom of Dahomey, these ancient palaces are Benin’s living expression of a culture and proof of the organised power structure of the ancient kings of Dahomey from 1620 to 1900.

Royal Palaces of Abomey Benin1
Photo: Thierry Joffroy/CRAterre Ensag

The complex fortified Palaces were established in 1625 by the Fon people who developed it into a powerful military and commercial empire. During its reign the kingdom is believed to have been one of the most powerful kingdoms of its time as it dominated in trade until the late 19th century.

The Royal Palaces of Abomey was skillfully built and organised as a sequence of courtyards of increasing importance, making it a unique architectural collection.

Royal Palaces of Abomey2
Photo: Thierry Joffroy/CRAterre Ensag
Photo: Susan Middleton/Getty Conservation Institute
Photo: Susan Middleton/Getty Conservation Institute

Interesting facts

  • 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.
  • Today the palaces 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.