Porto-Novo, meaning “New Port” in Portuguese, is a port city and the capital of Benin, in West Africa. A land of tales and legends, Porto-Novo is one of those little-known and underestimated regions. Come and be wild in this cool city and hook up with crazy hot escorts on Exotic Africa.More Less
Porto-Novo, “the red city”, is a port city and the capital of Benin, in West Africa. It lies on the Gulf of Guinea in western Africa.
The city, formerly known as Ajase, served as the capital for the Yoruba state of Popo. It later became the centre of the kingdom of Porto-Novo and flourished as a result of slave trade with the Portuguese.
Porto-Novo, meaning “New Port” in Portuguese, became the official capital of the West African country of Benin in 1960. Although it is the capital of the country, it remains the second largest city behind Cotonou. Many national government operations take place in Cotonou which is also the economic hub of Benin.
Porto-Novo remains the administrative and shipping center of the country. The main language spoken in the city and in the country is French. Nonetheless there are a number of other languages spoken in the city including Yoruba and Portuguese.
According to legend, Porto-Novo owes its creation to three Yoruba hunters, Obagadjou, Anata and Akakpo-Agbon. One day, while they had stopped and rested against a termite mound, they saw a nine-headed monster that disappeared shortly afterwards. Back in the village, the three hunters question the Fa, which explains the mystery. The monster is none other than Abori Messan Adjaga, a beneficent and protective deity. The three hunters then returned to the site to build a temple and founded Akron, today a district of Porto-Novo.
Sights N Sound in Porto-Novo
“The red city”, is distinguished by a rich architectural heritage that bears the mark of the “Brazilians”. These descendants of slaves introduced a so-called Afro-Brazilian style, particularly visible in the Oganla district, south of the old city.
More functional than aesthetic, Afro-Brazilian architecture keeps houses cool, thanks to the presence of two verandas upstairs. It thus seduced the settlers who asked the Afro-Brazilians to build them houses in this style. Today, many of them have been destroyed and those that are still standing are generally in very poor condition, often marked with a “Classified Site” sign.
The ruins of some old African palaces remain, and there are many colonial-style buildings, including the old Portuguese cathedral.
The ancient city is under African influence, with its temples and royal palace that were not destroyed by the colonists, who settled further west. The former colonial buildings now house administrations. Since the early 1990s, the deputies have been sitting in the Palace of the Republic, formerly the Governors’ Palace.
Also worth seeing: Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes Cathedral and, in another register, the villas built by Yoruba merchants on the outskirts, posh and flashy!
How to get to Porto-Novo
Porto-Novo is connected by road and rail to the country’s main industrial centre at Cotonou and by road to Lagos, Nigeria.
Cotonou Cadjehoun Airport is the largest in the country, and as such, is the primary entry point into the country by air, with flights to Africa and Europe.
There is, however, so much work that’s needed in this airport. According to passengers you are not allowed to enter the airport till about 2 hours before your flight so you have to stand outside to wait with your luggage. The lounge area needs major upgrades and there is no TV screen on board showing the flight schedules.
The announcements are made only in French and so all those who don’t understand the language are lost.
Where to stay in Porto-Novo
Hotel Dona is a good option. The rooms are clean, comfortable and it was recently renovated. On weekends. It serves African specialities such as Beninese, Senegales etc. in a piano bar atmosphere.
Freedom palace hotel offers 40 comfortable air-conditioned rooms. The hotel is rather frequented by a business clientele.