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Hogbonou, Adjacé
—  City and commune  —
Ouando Market
Porto-Novo is located in Benin
Location of Porto-Novo in Benin
Coordinates: 6°29′50″N 2°36′18″E / 6.49722°N 2.605°E / 6.49722; 2.605
Country  Benin
Established 16th century
 - Total 42.5 sq mi (110 km2)
Elevation 125 ft (38 m)
Population (2002)
 - Total 223,552
Parliament building of Benin in Porto-Novo

Porto-Novo (also known as Hogbonou and Adjacé is the official capital of the West African nation of Benin, and was the capital of French Dahomey. The commune covers an area of 110 square kilometres and as of 2002 had a population of 223,552 people.[1][2]

Porto-Novo is a port on an inlet of the Gulf of Guinea, in the southeastern portion of the country. It is Benin's second largest city, and although the official capital, the city of Cotonou is more important, culturally and politically. The region around Porto-Novo produces palm oil, cotton and kapok. Petroleum was discovered off the coast of the city in the 1990s, and has become an important export.

Porto-Novo is located at 6°28' North, 2°36' East (6.46667, 2.6). [1]



Porto-Novo was once a tributary of the Yoruba kingdom of Oyo and there continues to be a sizable Yoruba community in Porto Novo today. The city's name is of Portuguese origin, meaning "New Port." It was originally developed as a port for the slave trade.

In 1863, the British, who were active in nearby Nigeria, bombarded the city, which convinced the Kingdom of Porto-Novo to accept French protection. The neighboring Kingdom of Abomey objected to French involvement in the region, and war broke out between the two states. In 1883, Porto-Novo was incorporated into the French "colony of Dahomey and its dependencies". In 1900 it became Dahomey's capital city.

The kings of Porto-Novo continued to rule in the city, both officially and unofficially, until the death of the last king, Alohinto Gbeffa, in 1976. From 1908, the king held the title of Chef supérieur.

Many Afro-Brazilians settled in Porto-Novo following their return to Africa after emancipation in Brazil. Brazilian architecture and foods are important to the city's cultural life.


Porto Novo had an estimated population of 234,168 in 2005.

Population trend:

  • 1979: 133,168 (census)
  • 1992: 179,138 (census)
  • 2000: 210,400 (estimate)
  • 2002: 223,552 (estimate)
  • 2005: 234,168 (estimate)


Mosque in Porto-Novo
  • The Porto Novo Museum of Ethnography contains a large collection of Yoruba masks, as well as items on the history of the city and of Benin.
  • King Toffa's palace (also known as the Musée Honmé and the Royal Palace), now a museum, shows what life was like for African royalty.
  • Jardin Place Jean Bayol is a large plaza which contains a statue of the first King of Porto-Novo.
  • The da Silva Museum is a museum of Benin history. It shows what life was like for the returning Afro-Brazilians
  • The palais de Gouverneur (governor's palace) is the home of the national legislature.

Other sites of interest include a Brazilian-style church, which is now a mosque, and the Institute of Higher Studies of Benin. The Stade Municipale and the Stade Charles de Gaulle are the largest football stadiums in the city.

Porto-Novo is not far from the living history town of Ouidah. It is also near to Nigeria and to Cotonou, and is not far from Pendjari National Park, a natural habitat for many African animal species.


Adjogan music is endemic to Porto-Novo. The style of music is played on an alounloun, a stick with metallic rings attached which jingle in time with the beating of the stick. The alounloun is said to descend from the staff of office of King Te-Agdanlin. The music is played to honor the King and his ministers. The music is also played in the city's Roman Catholic churches, but the royal bird crest has been replaced with a cross.


Porto-Novo has a cement factory. The city is home to a branch of the Banque International du Benin, a major bank in Benin, and the Ouando Market.

World Heritage Status

This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on October 31, 1996 in the Cultural category[3].


  1. ^ "Porto Novo". Atlas Monographique des Communes du Benin. Retrieved January 5, 2010.  
  2. ^ "Communes of Benin". Statoids. Retrieved January 5, 2010.  
  3. ^ La ville de Porto-Novo : quartiers anciens et Palais Royal - UNESCO World Heritage Centre

See also

External links

Coordinates: 6°29′50″N 2°36′18″E / 6.4973°N 2.6051°E / 6.4973; 2.6051

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Africa : West Africa : Benin : Porto-Novo

Porto-Novo is the capital of Benin.


Porto Novo is the capitol of Benin, but in name only. Benin’s second largest city of approximately 250,000 people is a nice change of pace from the bustling Cotonou and has many nice features. It is an easy one hour car ride from Cotonou; only 20 minutes from the beach. Porto Novo, named by the Portuguese in the 1500’s, is still today showing significant Portuguese influence. For its size, Porto Novo has quite of bit of culture and tourist attractions. Ouando, a district 3km north of the city center, has a large market and pretty good nightlife.

Get in

By plane

Although the capital of Benin, one must fly in to Cotonou and take a taxi (600cfa) to Porto Novo.

By minibus or taxi

Minibuses and taxis go to Cotonou regularly and are cheap (600cfa for the 45 minute trip). You will most likely end up at the big market Dantopka in Cotonou unless you choose to descend somewhere before that. It can be quite intimidating getting out there especially in peak times. You will be immediately surrounded with people wanting to give you rides. They will grab your bags and start to usher you to their moto or car, so make sure you have a good handle on things before stepping out of the car.

Also, from the Porto Novo auto gare, there are taxis to Abomey and Lagos, Nigeria. For traveling north, head to Marche Ouanho and say you are looking for a car for your destination. Every hour or so, when filled, cars leave for Pobé and Ketou.

By boat

There are pirogues leaving from Porto arriving less-visited lake villages nearby. Ask around down by the lagoon, about 50m east of the bridge for prices. No fixed prices, but usually expect to pay around 2,000 cfa round trip.

Get around

Traffic isn't overwhelming like in Cotonou. However, like Cotonou, the best way and easiest way to see Porto Novo is by zemidjan. A full day with driver waiting on you should cost 5,000cfa maximum. Not bad.

  • Museé Ethnographique de Porto Novo. This is an interesting museum that takes an intensive look into the past of Porto Novo’s kings. Displaying a good selection of fetishes, old Yourba king masks, costumes, and some musical instruments, this is definitely worth the CFA1,000 Entrance fee.
  • Palais Royal du Roi Toffa. This former residence of King Toffa is now officially called Musee Honmé. CFA 1,000 is the entrance fee. This well maintained, rather simple, palace is a nice look into how African royalty really lived. 1883 was the year King Toffa signed the treaty with French, agreeing to hand over land. The kingdom of Porto Novo was one of the longest lasting in Africa, lasting up until 1976.
  • Museé da Silva. Celebrating Afro-Brazilian influence on the city, this fairly new museum offers a lot of variety. The museum grounds consist of a traditional house, a small library, an open-air cinema showing French films, and a hotel.

The unique and perhaps most colorful building in West Africa is the 19th century Brazilian style church now converted into a mosque. A must-see.

  • Centre Songhai. Project Songhai has an interesting story and is a good example of a self-sustaining learning community. They attract students from all over West Africa for agriculture studies and they are pioneers in waste management and resourcefulness. The compound includes a dormitory residence, beautiful open-air conference centers, cyber café, nice restaurants and bar, and a small general store with fresh produce.

There is in mid- January a fete which celebrates Afro-Brazilian legacy is a large festival of food, music, and dancing; definitely worth checking out if you are around. Contact Musee de Silva for more information.

Ask around in Ouando, there is a decent swimming pool.

Across from the National Assembly, there are two nice parks with an outdoor patio/restaurant, and walking paths.


There are about four supermarkets with lots of variety. The big ones to ask for are Champignon, Paniere, Universe 7, all located on the same boulevard through town.

  • Adjarra Market, located 10Km north of Porto. Held every fourth day, this market is certainly one of the best in Benin. One can find unique types of tie-dyed fabric, amazing pottery, unusual musical instruments, various voodoo ornaments, and of course mainstream market items.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under 600 CFA
Mid-range 700-3000 CFA
Splurge Over 3000
  • Comme Chez Soi, western side of Rond-Point Ataké. Good, cheap African food.
  • Maquis Katchi Ambiance, Carrefour Catchi. Inexpensive place where the local specialty is bush rat, and is quite good.
  • Restaurant Mahi, just south of Place Kokoyé. Hearty, Beninese style meals, good prices.
  • Buvette Escale du Pont, right near the bus station or gare. Cheap drinks and good African menu.
  • Java Promo, across from National Assembly. Nice atmosphere, great service, and good food.
  • Casa Danza, a block south of Ethnographic museum. A good selection of more expensive western dishes and some Beninese food.


Hotels Dona and Beaurivage have restaurants with both big menus and big prices.

  • Hotel Malibu, tel. 21 34 04. Rooms from CFA 3,500. Very basic accommodation with an inexpensive restaurant attached
  • Hotel La Détente, tel. 21 44 69. Rooms from CFA 5,000. Hotel includes a bar and restaurant, outdoor terrace with view of lagoon, and clean rooms with showers and fans.
  • Catholic Mission, located between Ouando and city center.
  • Museé da Silva, tel. 21 50 71. Rooms from CFA 13,000. Nice rooms with air conditioning, but located on busy street so noise can be a problem.
  • Hotel Beaurivage, tel. 21 23 99. Rooms from CFA 16,000. Comfortable, air-conditioned rooms overlooking the lagoon in the western part of town.
  • Hotel Dona, tel. 22 30 52. Rooms from CFA 17,000. Just north of city center, this hotel is most expensive but nicer than the others.


There are plenty of internet cafes that work well especially in the town center. Prices are usually around 400cfa per hour.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:



Proper noun




  1. The official capital of Benin. The de-facto capital is Cotonou.

See also

Simple English

Hogbonou and Adjacé
Coordinates: 6°28′N 2°36′E / 6.467°N 2.6°E / 6.467; 2.6
Country Benin
Population (2002)
 - Total 223,552

Porto-Novo (also known as Hogbonou and Adjacé) is the capital of the West African country of Benin. The city has a population of 223,552 people [1] Porto-Nova is a port on an inlet of the Gulf of Guinea, in the southeastern part of the country. Porto-Novo is Benin's second largest city. The city of Cotonou is larger and more important, culturally and politically. The region around Porto-Novo produces palm oil, cotton and kapok. Petroleum was found off the coast of the city in the 1990s. It has become an important export of the city.

Things to see

  • The Porto Novo Museum of Ethnography has a large collection of Yoruba masks. It also has items on the history of the city and of Benin.
  • King Toffa's palace (also known as the Musée Honmé and the Royal Palace) is now a museum that shows what life was like for African royalty.
  • Jardin Place Jean Bayol is a large plaza which has a statue of the first King of Porto-Novo.
  • The da Silva Museum is a museum of Benin history.
  • The palais de Gouverneur (Governor's palace) is the home of the national legislature.

Another place of interest is a Brazilian-style church which is now a mosque. Stade Municipale and Stade Charles de Gaulle, or Charles de Gaulle Stadium, are the largest football stadiums in the city.


  1. As of a 2002 census

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