30 Fascinating Facts about the Great Benin Kingdom

The Oba (King) of the Benin Royal Kingdom in Nigeria is seated beside his Chief Priest, (to his left) and his royal attendants, at the annual Igue Ceremony celebrating the power of the ancient kingdom and reaffirming its well-being and prosperity. 2010 Oba of the Kingdom of Benin
The Oba (King) of the Benin Royal Kingdom in Nigeria is seated beside his Chief Priest, (to his left) and his royal attendants, at the annual Igue Ceremony celebrating the power of the ancient kingdom and reaffirming its well-being and prosperity. 2010

What is the world’s oldest surviving kingdom? Would you be surprised if I told you it was the Kingdom of Great Benin? Yea, that’s right, the Great Benin Kingdom is the oldest surviving kingdom in the world and it’s 2054 years old. The Kingdom of the Great Benin is arguably the greatest empire in Nigeria.

The Great Oba of the kingdom of Benin
In this post, 30 amazing facts that you never knew about the Kingdom of Great Benin will be revealed. The Ogiso dynasty lasted between the reigns of Ogiso Orire and Ogiso Odia for about 854 years, plus an interregnum of 285 years. Between Ogiso Owodo and Oba Oranmiyan, plus 845 years of Oba ruler-ship to date, there was an interregnum of 70 years.
Below are 30 stunning facts about the Kingdom of Great Benin:

Oba of the Kingdom of Benin

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Oba of Benin
1. The Dutch built the first-storey building in Nigeria in Ughoton in 1718, and it was called “The Factory.” During the 1897 war against the Benins, the said building was destroyed by the British. The site of the building is still intact, however. This fact is controversial because there is a different record suggesting that the first floor building in Nigeria is a building that is still standing and was constructed in 1845 by Reverend Henry Townsend of the Church Missionary Society (CMS). In 1842, however, the cornerstone was laid. The Hausas in Northern Nigeria also state that some storey buildings were constructed before the building of Reverend Henry Townsend was erected.


  1. In the 16th century, the earliest Portuguese missionaries founded the oldest church in West Africa in the Great Benin Empire, which is now known as the Holy Aruosa (Benin National Church). In 1692AD, Pope Pius XII visited Benin and turned the church over to the Oba of Benin, Oba Oreoghene.
  2. During the reign of Oba Esigie in the 16th century, the first known embassy established in Nigeria was in Benin.
  3. The oldest known letter written in Nigeria was instructed by Duarte Pires by Oba Esigie, which was addressed to King John II on October 20, 1516 AD. The second oldest letter was written to the Pope by Anthonio Domingo (Great-Grand Son of Oba Olua) to seek missionary assistance in

Oba Chiefs Ekhiemwen 30 Fascinating Facts about the Great Benin Kingdom
5. Lagos was founded by Oba Orhogbua and planted a dukedom, the Obaship of Lagos (Eko).

  1. The 60BCE Ogiso (Agbado) Market is the oldest ever recorded market in Africa.
  2. Oba Eresoyen established the first ever recorded bank (Owigho) in present-day West-Africa in Benin Kingdom, construction began in 1740 AD and was completed in 1743 AD.
  3. Queen Idia was the first living Oba mother to see her son become an Oba. That’s because historically, before their sons rise to the throne, crowned prince mothers have been killed before. The mother of Esigie, the Oba of Benin who ruled from 1504 to 1550, was Queen Idia. In her son’s rise and rule, she played a very significant role. She was described as a great warrior who fought tirelessly before and during the reign of her son as the Oba of the people of Edo.
  4. During the reign of Oba Udagbedo, the current Ga tribe of Ghana migrated from Benin (1299-1334)
  5. Oduduwa was known as Ekaladerhan, the exiled crowned prince of Benin who is purported to be the progenitor of the Yoruba race.

30 Fascinating Facts about the Great Benin Kingdom
The great queen’s face
11. The kingdom of Warri is an offshoot of the royal house of the kingdom of Benin, founded in the 15th century by Prince Iginuwa, the son of Oba Olua.

Idia of Benin Kingdom 30 Fascinating Facts about the Great Benin Kingdom

  1. Osemwughe, the Benin warrior who deserted the town of Udo when there was war between Benin City and the town of Udo, had corrupted the Osemawe of Ondo.
  2. From the town of “Emwan N’Udo” (people of Udo town)
  3. the word Ondo was corrupted. The face of FESTAC 77, held in Lagos, was the world’s most popular Queen Idia mask.
  4. The Portuguese explorer, meaning “a place of heavenly pageantry and prosperity,” corrupted the word Benin from Ubini

30 Fascinating Facts about the Great Benin Kingdom oba of great Benin Kingdom
Oba of the Kingdom of Benin
16. Oba Esigie was the first African king to be baptised in Benin in 1504AD.

  1. . The King of Benin can make 20,000 men ready for war in a single day, and 180,000 if necessary, and because of this he has great influence among all the surrounding peoples… His authority extends over many towns, cities and villages. There is no king in his capital, Olfert Dapper, Overview of Africa, 1668, in the possession of so many beautiful cities and towns.
  2. “The walls of Benin City and its surrounding kingdom were the world’s largest earthworks carried out before the mechanical era, according to the Guinness Book of Records (1974 edition). The walls of Benin City were at one point “four times longer than the great wall of China, and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Ch, according to estimates by the New Scientists Fred Pearce.
  3. Queen Idia’s face is the most famous mask in the world.

Twenty. Benin City is surrounded by large walls excavated in the 13th century by Oba Oguola and in the 15th century by Oba Ewuare I.

  1. In a mosaic of more than 500 interconnected settlement borders, the Great Wall of Benin stretched across a total of some 16,000 km. They occupied 6, 500 square kilometres and were all dug up by the Edo people.

Great Benin Wall 30 Fascinating Facts about the Great Benin Kingdom
The Great Benin Wall

22.. It took an estimated 150 million hours of digging to create the Great Wall of Benin, which is probably the greatest single archaeological phenomenon on the earth.

  1. Benin City is the first city in the world to have the impression of street lighting.
  2. The Portuguese were the people who called our land the “Great City of Benin” because they were shocked at what they saw that the people of Edo had accomplished centuries before any other city in the world.
  3. “1n 1691, Lourenco Pinto, the Portuguese ship’s captain, noted: “Great Benin, where the king lives, is bigger than Lisbon; all the streets are straight and as far as the eyes can see.
  4. The Binis are the world’s strongest bronze casters (Igun- eronmwon).

30 Fascinating Facts about the Great Benin Kingdom
From Igun Eronmwon

27. Ogiso Igodo (40BC-16AD) and Oba Oranmiyan (Odolorre) 1170-1200AD, two Kings without a crown, were installed.

Twenty-eight. Great Benin is regarded as the black civilization’s cradle and the heart of the world (Edorisiagbon).

  1. In the present day Nigeria about 501 years ago (August, 1516), the Benins were the first to use sophisticated weapons (guns) to fight war (Idah war) in the present day, the war was led by Oba Esigie mother (Queen Idia).

30 Until the late 19th century, every Oba in Lagos (Eko) was buried in their ancestral home (Benin City). Oba Osemwende advised Idewu Ojulari, the Oba of Lagos, to ‘zegbele’ in 1834 to further lend credence to this (kill himself). The advice was unexpectedly complied with. By taking poison, the Lagos Oba complied.


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