Top 10 Exciting Historical Places to Visit in Nigeria

Historical Places to Visit in Nigeria
The Idanre Hill. © todimu kuyinu

Nigeria is no doubt one of the most beautiful countries on the African continent for it is blessed with mesmerizing details of nature from water falls to mountains as well as beautiful rocks. It is a country which has a lot of history in form of places, and artifacts and many other things which makes a very amazing nation. We’ve decided to put together a few historical places which might suit your interest in this article. Because Nigeria is a place where lots of events and happenings have occurred which shaped it into one of the most popular countries in the world. Travelling to Nigeria, and looking at the best places to visit in your holiday destination? From the Oduduwa shrine to UNESCO World Heritage sites. Here’s our top 10 recommendations for exciting popular historical places to visit in Nigeria. This is a little history and travel guide to Nigeria’s historical sites.

We also recommend our guide to the best annual cultural festivals in Nigeria.

Museum of Slavery, Badagry

Museum of Slavery, Badagry
The 1st storey building in Nigeria (Marina Badagry, Lagos). © bestofnigeria/instagram

Badagry, a coastal town lying between the Lagos city and Benin border, is an historical settlement which has a significant history between Nigeria, Europe and America. This is as a result of the slave trade existing in Africa during the old times, of which an estimate of 550,000 black slaves were sold and transported abroad from this town. Asides being an Avenue for slavery, Badagry was the first place a storey building was ever erected in Nigeria. Today, the town houses a slave museum which exhibits items such as slave chains, drinking pots, and slave statues which has various tourists from all spheres of the world trooping into Badagry so as to take a step back into era of slave trade. Places of interest include the palace of Akran of Badagry, the first storey building in Nigeria, slave chains in the mini museum of slave trade, the Vlekte slave market and the slave port established for the shipment of slaves.

Ogbunike Caves

Ogbunike Caves
A tunnel into the Ogbunike caves. © Titi Dokubo

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in Ogbunike, Anambra State. This is a popular tourist site in the southeastern state of Enugu accessible via a walkway of about 317 steps, known to have been discovered by “Ukwa” a hunter back in the early times. The caves which houses a number of bats of different sizes is surrounded by a tropical rainforest and is known to have a massive open chamber which leads to different tunnels within the caves. It is said that anyone going into the caves has to remove their shoes and women going through their monthly cycle are not permitted entry into the caves unless done with their periods. A festival tagged “Ime Ogba” elebrated annually in commemoration of the discovery of the cave.

Olumo Rock

Olumo Rock
Olumo Rock, located in the ancient city of Abeokuta, Nigeria. © Abiodun Alexis

Olumo Rock: is a solid piece of monument located right at the center of Abeokuta (meaning under the stone) the capital of Ogun state. This monument which today is a one of the most visited historical sites in Nigeria, served as a hiding place for the ‘Egba people’ during the intertribal wars in the 19th century. It is said that one can get to see the whole city of abeokuta from a top the rock. Today, the rock now has an elevator which goes all the way up above the rock which tourists exploring the monument can access if they can’t manually find their way up. A few number of sculptures from the 19th century can be found within Olumo rock, which are all well labeled in English captions, including the spot where the Egba people took refuge. A tour of Olumo rock today costs 700 naira for adults while it is 1000 naira for children, both with a tour guide to show them around and tell the tales behind massive monument. A visit to the city of Abeokuta is incomplete without visiting the Olumo Rock – one of the major rocks in Nigeria and a very popular tourist destination, sits in the ancient city centre of Abeokuta – a name which means “Under the rock”; it has a height of 137 metres above sea level.

Ancient Kano City Walls

Ancient Kano City Walls
Ancient Kano City Walls, Nigeria (1941). © Majorshots/Flickr

The Ancient Kano City Walls (Hausa: Kofar Na’isa). Construction of this popular tourist site located on the south of the Sahara was kicked off during the reign of Sarki Gijimasu between 1095 and 1134 and completed during the reign of Zamnagawa to protect the inhabitants of the Kano City. Though most parts of the walls are in a sorry state today, it serves as a significant landmark on the northern part of Nigeria and has been tagged as one of the most spectacular monuments in Africa. The Ancient Kano City Walls were described as “‘the most impressive monument in West Africa”.

Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove

Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove
Sacred forest located along the banks of the Osun in Osogbo, Nigeria. © Petr Mlčoch

This sacred historical forest lies in the heart of osogbo, the capital of Osun state in the south western part of Nigeria. The forest which serves as home to a number of sculptures, shrines and local works of art, used to be an abandoned sacred forest which prohibited fishing, hunting and other activities meant meant to keep forest alive. Not until the arrival of a foreigner “Susanne Wenger” who revived the historical sacred site with the help of the locals. The historical site is today annually visited by tourists from within the African continent and abroad so as to tap into the history and culture of the Osun people. In 2005, it was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Its yearly festival brings thousands of spectators, tourists and Osun worshippers from around the world.

Arochukwu Long Juju Slave Route, Abia

Arochukwu Long Juju Slave Route, Abia
Entrance into the Ibini Ukpabi, an oracle of Arochukwu, Nigeria. © Arochukwu Ancient Historical Background

This is the home of the shrine of Ibin Ukpabi with a domineering cult statute of Kamalu- ‘The Ancient Warrior god’ still standing. This sacred altar located in Arochukwu the third largest city in Abia state, served as a supreme court during the early times. It is said that every judgement made at this altar is final and no form of appeal can be accepted once a perpetrator has been sentenced. Once sentenced, the perpetrator walks in through the gully leading into different tunnels within the sacred temple and if guilty, never walks back outside alive as a river near the tunnel would be covered in blood, signifying the death of the sentenced. But if they walk back alive, it simply shows the one sentenced was innocent in the first place. It also said that some victims end up being blindfolded and transported to Calabar as slaves before being transferred to “ala bekee“. There are lots of myths about this area which was listed in 2007 on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Idanre Hill, Ondo State

Idanre Hill, Ondo State
Idanre Hill, or Oke Idanre is located in Idanre town in Ondo State, Nigeria. © Henry Ekpunobi

This spectacularly mind-blowing land scape encloses the Idanre town located in Akure, the capital of Ondo state in the southwestern part of Nigeria. The ancient tourist center which once served as a home to the Idanre community for over a 100 years, today receives tourists in thousands annually, who one way or the other have heard about the wonders of the historical land. Oke Idanre hills which is 3000 ft above sea level promises to leave a nostalgic souvenir in the hearts of her visitors as provides a clear view of Idanre town from above the hills. It was listed in 2007 on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is a tourist attraction centre that brings thousands of visitors all through the year.

Oduduwa Shrine and Grove (Ile-Ife)

Oduduwa Shrine and Grove (Ile-Ife)
Oduduwa Grove World Temple – © Afro Tourism

It is located in Ile-ife, Osun state. The site is notable for being the point where Oduduwa, the legendary progenitor of the Yoruba race landed with a chain. He founded Ile-life which became his final resting place, at this location, a statute of Oduduwa with the chain and staff can be found. This place has attracted so many tourists and researchers over the years.

Erin-Ijesha (Olumirin Waterfall)

Erin-Ijesha (Olumirin Waterfall)
Erin-Ijesha Waterfalls is located in Erin-Ijesha, Nigeria. © Tayo Ajide

Olumirin means “another deity”. The Olumirin waterfall located in Erin-ijesha Osun state was discovered in 1140AD by Akinla, a granddaughter of Oduduwa, when the people of Ife were migrating to Erin-ijesha town. An interesting historical and tourist attraction said to have been discovered by Oduduwa’s daughter which is located in Osun state, Nigeria. It has seven stages which is accessible by steps, though slippery, leading right to the top of the waterfall which is why each tourist climbing the waterfall is advices to put on a pair comfortable sneakers. One can’t run away from getting splashed by pure drops of water which falls from above while climbing up the falls. The environs of the falls are beautifully surrounded by lush trees, sounds of birds chirping in the distance and rocks which is snaked by the water from above. This impressive tourist destination is sometimes used by movie producers and if lucky, one can find locals who beats drums to the hearing of interested visitors while they dance. A fair price of 200 naira is all it costs for a tour through the waterfall with a guide providing details about the site.

Surame Cultural Landscape, Sokoto

Surame Cultural Landscape, Sokoto
Surame Cultural Landscape, Sokoto – © dailytrust

Surame is an ancient city in Sokoto State, created in the 16th Century by Muhammadu Kanta Sarkin Kebbi and abandoned in the `1700. It is regarded as one of the world’s wonders of the human civilization, ingenuity and creativity. Its wall is made of massive stones and has a Palace of the Hidi; the chief of the village. It was declared an ancient Nigeria’s National Monument in 1964 and added in the Cultural and Natural category of the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2007.

It is obvious from the list of historical sites above, that Nigeria truly has a lot of history behind it’s name which in various ways has shaped it into the state it is today. And though we couldn’t name other significant ancient sites Nigeria beholds, we challenge you our readers to take a solo tour to one of these places and see how much interesting things you would find out about the rich history, cultures and ethics of Nigeria. If you’ve been to one the sites listed above, don’t hesitate to share details about your experience with us in the comments section below.

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