Porto-Novo, Benin

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Porto-Novo, Benin

Region: Ouémé Department

Geographic Coordinates: 6.497200, 2.605000
Temperature Range: 20.0°C to 35.0°C (68°F to 95°F)
Climate: Seasonal.
Population: 300000
Language: French

Porto-Novo is the official capital city of Benin, A small West African country located on the Gulf of Guinea. The city is situated about 30 kilometers southeast of Cotonou, The largest city in Benin. Porto-Novo is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, Making it one of the most important tourist destinations in West Africa. The name Porto-Novo means New Port in Portuguese, Reflecting its past as a major center for slave trade during colonial times.

The city was founded by Portuguese traders in the late 16th century and served as an important trading post until France took control of Benin in 1892. One of the main attractions in Porto-Novo is its vibrant marketplaces where visitors can find everything from traditional textiles to spices and local crafts. The Grand Market (Marché Ouando) is one such market that offers a unique shopping experience with hundreds of vendors selling their wares under colorful umbrellas. Another must-see attraction in Porto-Novo is the Royal Palace (Palais Royal), Which was built by King Toffa I around 1850.

This palace served as both a residence for kings and a meeting place for government officials during colonial times. Today, It houses a museum that showcases traditional artifacts and artwork from different periods throughout Benin’s history. The Ethnographic Museum (Musée Ethnographique) located near the Royal Palace also provides an insight into Beninese culture with exhibits featuring traditional clothing, Masks, Musical instruments, And other artifacts used by various ethnic groups across the country.

For those interested in religion or spirituality, There are several notable sites to visit including Ganvie – often referred to as Africa’s Venice – which features stilted houses built over waterways; Zoungbodji Temple dedicated to voodoo worship; and Notre-Dame Cathedral built-in Gothic style architecture during French colonization. Porto-Novo is also known for its vibrant nightlife, With many bars and nightclubs offering live music and dancing. One of the most popular venues is the Olympe Club, Which hosts local bands and DJs playing traditional African music as well as contemporary hits.

Overall, Porto-Novo offers visitors a unique blend of history, Culture, And modernity that makes it a must-visit destination in West Africa. From its bustling markets to its impressive palaces and museums, There’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.

Important Landmarks

  1. Royal Palace of Porto-Novo
  2. Musée Honmè, a museum showcasing the history and culture of the Fon people
  3. Place Jean Bayol, a public square with colonial architecture and a statue of King Toffa
  4. Stade Charles de Gaulle, a sports stadium that hosts soccer matches and other events
  5. Porto-Novo Cathedral, a Catholic church built in the early 20th century
  6. Ganvie Floating Village, an entire village built on stilts in Lake Nokoué
  7. The Brazilian Quarter (Quartier Brésil), an area of town with colorful colonial-style houses
  8. Ouidah Museum of History (Musée d’Histoire de Ouidah), located about 30 minutes from Porto-Novo and featuring exhibits on the slave trade and voodoo religion
  9. Sacred Forest of Kpassè (Forêt Sacrée de Kpassè), an important site for traditional religious practices
  10. Marché Dantokpa, Benin’s largest market located in nearby Cotonou but easily accessible from Porto-Novo by car or taxi

Primary Industries

Major Industries and Businesses in Porto-Novo, Benin

  1. Agriculture
    • Cotton production
    • Palm oil
    • Corn
    • Yams
    • Cassava
  2. Fishing
  3. Tourism
    • Royal Palace of Abomey
    • Porto-Novo Museum of Ethnography
  4. Textile industry
  5. Retail trade
  6. Transportation
    • Buses
    • Taxis
    • Motorcycles
  7. Education
    • Several universities and colleges
  8. Government services
    • Ministries
    • Embassies

Noteable History

  1. Porto-Novo was founded in the late 16th century by the Yoruba people who migrated from Nigeria.
  2. In the 18th century, Porto-Novo became a major center for the slave trade and was ruled by Dahomey Kingdom.
  3. In 1863, Porto-Novo signed a treaty with France, making it a protectorate of France and establishing French influence in the region.
  4. Agoli-Agbo was one of the most notable kings of Porto-Novo during this time period who helped establish peace between various ethnic groups in the city.
  5. During World War II, Porto-Novo served as an important supply base for Allied forces in West Africa.
  6. In 1960, Benin gained independence from France and Porto-Novo became its capital city until it was moved to Cotonou in 1975.
  7. Today, Porto-Novo is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to many museums and historic landmarks such as The Royal Palace Museum (Musée Honmé), which showcases traditional Yoruba art and culture.
  8. Notable people associated with Porto-Novo include Agoli-Agbo (King of Dahomey), Hubert Maga (first president of independent Benin), Paulin Soumanou Vieyra (filmmaker), Angèle Diabang Brener (documentary filmmaker) among others.

Museums and Things To See

  1. Royal Palace of Porto-Novo: This 19th-century palace is the official residence of the King of Porto-Novo.
  2. Ethnographic Museum: This museum displays artifacts and objects related to Benin’s culture, history, and traditions.
  3. Da Silva Museum: A collection of African art including masks, sculptures, textiles, and pottery is housed in this museum.
  4. Place Honmé: During colonial times, this historical building served as a meeting place for local leaders.
  5. Notre-Dame Cathedral: Built in the late 19th century with a mix of European and African architectural styles, this Catholic church is beautiful.
  6. Ouidah Museum of History: Located about an hour from Porto-Novo in Ouidah; this museum explores Benin’s history as a major center for slave trade.
  7. The National Center for Arts & Crafts (CNCA): A cultural center showcasing traditional crafts such as weaving, pottery making, wood carving and more.
  8. Temple des Pythons (Python Temple): In Ouidah just outside Porto-Novo lies a temple where pythons are worshipped by locals who believe them to be sacred creatures.
  9. Dantokpa Market – One of West Africa’s largest open-air markets with everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts available for sale.
  10. Stade Charles de Gaulle – The national stadium where many important sporting events take place including football matches featuring Benin’s national team.

Sports Teams

  1. Unfortunately, I do not have access to comprehensive information on sports teams and their histories in Porto-Novo, Benin.
  2. However, I suggest conducting further research on local sports clubs and organizations in the area.
  3. Alternatively, reaching out to local residents for more information may also be helpful.

Cultural Events

  1. Vodoun Festival is a significant cultural event in Porto-Novo that takes place every January. It is a celebration of the Vodoun religion, which holds great importance in the culture and history of Benin.
  2. Independence Day is celebrated on August 1st every year to commemorate Benin’s independence from France in 1960.
  3. The National Arts and Crafts Fair, held annually in December, celebrates traditional arts and crafts from all over Benin.
  4. Fête du Trône is an annual festival that celebrates the coronation of the king or queen of Porto-Novo on January 10th.
  5. Festival International de Porto-Novo (FIP) features music, dance, theater performances, art exhibitions, and more from artists around the world.
  6. Fetes des Masques et des Cultures (Festival of Masks and Cultures) is an annual event that celebrates traditional African masks with performances by dancers wearing elaborate costumes.
  7. Nago New Year Festival takes place each year between January or February to mark their new year’s start with dancing and feasting for several days among the Nago people.
  8. Ouidah International Dance Festival showcases traditional dances from West Africa as well as contemporary dance forms from around the world yearly during July or August.


  1. Pâte with sauce gombo: a dish made of cassava flour served with a sauce made of okra and meat or fish.
  2. Akassa: a fermented cornmeal pancake usually served with a spicy sauce.
  3. Fufu with soup: a dish made of pounded yam or cassava served with soup.
  4. Grilled fish: fresh fish grilled over an open flame and served with plantains or rice.
  5. Chez Régine: a popular restaurant serving traditional Beninese dishes such as pâte, akassa, and fufu.
  6. La Terrasse de l’Amitié: another popular restaurant offering local cuisine such as grilled fish and seafood dishes.
  7. Le Jardin des Saveurs: known for its delicious vegetarian options including vegetable stews and soups made from locally sourced ingredients.
  8. Le Palais Royal Restaurant Bar Lounge: offers both local cuisine as well as international dishes in an elegant setting overlooking the city’s waterfront area.

Parks and Recreation

  1. Parc des Princes: This public park is located in the heart of Porto-Novo and features a playground, walking trails, and picnic areas.
  2. Jardin des Plantes et de la Nature: This botanical garden showcases the flora and fauna of Benin with over 200 species of plants.
  3. Stade Charles de Gaulle: This sports stadium hosts soccer matches and other athletic events throughout the year.
  4. Musée Honmè: This museum showcases traditional Beninese art and cultural artifacts.
  5. Plage de Fidjrosse: Located just outside Porto-Novo, this beach offers swimming, sunbathing, and water sports activities such as surfing and kiteboarding.
  6. Marché Dantokpa: The largest market in West Africa is located in Cotonou but easily accessible from Porto-Novo which offers an array of goods including textiles, food items, jewelry, souvenirs etc
  7. Palais Royal de Porto Novo : A historic palace that served as the residence of kings during the Dahomey Kingdom era now open to visitors for guided tours
  8. Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l’Immaculée-Conception : A Catholic church built-in 1883 with stunning architecture that attracts tourists all year round


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