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Porto Novo is a coastal town that has rare charms, the most spectacular of which is its storied history and rich culture. The impressive designs of its major landmarks is apparent from the moment you set foot into its old port, especially the colonial remnants that today, stand as a testament to the modern renaissance of this African nation.
The former palaces of royalty have been converted into concert venues, hotels, and museums, meaning that even whilst looking through an historical exhibit, you'll be strolling through halls that have experience centuries of turbulent conflicts, social change, and revolutions. Along with the superb sights of the main town
Musee Da Silva
This museum opened as recently as 1998, yet it has already garnered a reputation as being home to superb example of historical restoration. Within the interior of an 1870 Afro-Brazilian house, cruisers can find a wonderfully eclectic range of exhibits, concerning everything from the first appearance of slave ships on African shores and the social changes in the region during the 1950s.
The relics on display include key treaties signed between France and the local kingdoms, oil paintings of several of the colonial French governors, and photographs of the former Heads of State.
Palais Royal du Roi Toffa
The former residence of King Toffa, feared warlord who once ruled the entire region, the Palais Royal is now the Musee Honme. You can get an amazing look at the exterior of the palace just by taking a stroll around the grounds during your tour of the town, but it's more than worth it to pay the entrance fee and head inside.
The throne and interior decoration is gorgeously preserved, and it provides a fascinating insight into how the African Royalty rally lived. If you're a history buff, you should make a beeline to the collection of ancient tribal garments, weaponry and regalia on the far side of the hall.
Project Songhai is an institution which has become a self-sustaining learning community right at the heart of Porto Novo culture. They attract people from all over West Africa to study the technical side of agriculture, and become pioneers in the field.
One hour guided tours can give you an amazing look into the plantations and workshops where the students are often busy creating the freshest produce and the most sustainable of crops. There is also a cyber-centre where you can research the intriguing subject even further.
Adjarra Market is one of the finest shopping experiences to be found in the whole of Benin, and it's all based around local vendors. A browse through the stalls could net you tie-dyed fabrics, rare musical instruments, voodoo ornaments.
Beaurivage should be your first port of call for an evening meal, as its menu is as spectacular as the rustic streets surrounding it. It offers local seafood dishes with a flavoursome twist, all served in extremely generous, not to mention delicious, portions.
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