Benin City

Located in the Bendel State of southern NIGERIA, Benin City is famous for the work of its numerous artisans. Despite its name, the city is not related to the nation of BENIN, which lies west of Nigeria. Around A.D. 1000 a center of regional importance arose on the site of the present Benin City. This early town, also known as Benin, served as the seat of government for the ancient kingdom of Benin. In the mid-1200s Oba (king) Ewedo built an elaborate palace in the heart of the city. Destroyed by a revolt in about 1480, the capital was rebuilt by the victorious leader, Oba Ewuare. From that time on, the city became a center for the production of works of art in brass, ivory, and wood.

In 1897 the British sacked Benin City, seizing most of the palace’s ornaments as well as items symbolizing the king’s power. The city remains an important hub of regional trade today, receiving most of its income from the export of palm oil, rubber, and wood.

Benin City