Benin City National Museum
In the heart of Nigeria, nestled on King's Square, lies the Benin City National Museum, an institution rich in history and cultural significance. This prestigious museum was established in 1973 and since then, it has served as a custodian of Nigeria's rich and diverse cultural heritage.
A stroll through its corridors takes you on a journey through time, where you'll encounter an array of artifacts from the illustrious Benin Empire. Immerse yourself in the intricacy of the terracotta and bronze figures, or marvel at the artistry of the cast iron pieces that are steeped in ancient traditions.
But the museum's collection is not just confined to the Benin Empire. It's also home to treasures from surrounding ancient city-states, making it one of the richest national museums in Nigeria in terms of historical breadth. As it stands, the museum is at the forefront of the fight for the return of thousands of artifacts taken from the city over a century ago by the British government.
However, a word of caution for the photography enthusiasts: cameras are not permitted inside the museum. This measure has been put in place to protect the integrity of the artifacts. Visitors, though, are welcome to capture the exterior architecture of the museum.
Access to this treasure trove of history is quite affordable. The entrance fee is set at 300 naira for adults, 200 naira for children, and 1000 naira for foreign visitors.
There's no shortage of activities to indulge in at the Benin City Museum. Delve into the Oba Akenzua Gallery on the ground floor, which houses major artifacts such as the head of the revered Queen Idia and samples of shotguns used during the Ida war. Ascend to the first floor to discover artifacts from within Benin City and its neighboring communities, as well as Delta State. The Unity Gallery on the top floor offers a glimpse of various historic relics from around the country.
The museum also houses a gift shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs ranging from batik fabrics to traditional drinking vessels and jewelry items, allowing you to take a piece of history home with you.
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