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The Great Wall of Benin: All You Should Know

(April 18 2023 at 20:33pm)

The Lost Medieval City of Benin and its Remarkable Design: The Great Wall of Benin was indeed the  the Great Wall of Africa! 

Benin City, once the capital of a pre-colonial African empire in southern Nigeria, was one of the oldest and most developed states in West Africa dating back to the 11th century. The Guinness Book of Records recognized the city's walls and surrounding kingdom as the largest earthworks constructed before the mechanical era. These walls extended for some 16,000 km and separated the surroundings of the capital into around 500 distinct villages. However, little of these walls remains today.

Benin City was also renowned for its planning and design. The city's layout followed the principles of symmetry, proportionality, and repetition, known as fractal design. The city and its surrounding villages were purposely arranged to form perfect fractals, with similar shapes repeated in each house's rooms, the houses themselves, and clusters of houses in mathematically predictable patterns.

The city's urban planning and architecture were so advanced that when the Portuguese "discovered" the city in 1485, they called it the "Great City of Benin," one of the most beautiful and best-planned cities in the world. The city had metal lamps, many feet high, fueled by palm oil and lit at night to provide illumination for traffic to and from the palace. It was also known for its lack of theft and the high degree of security that the residents felt.

In contrast, at the same time, London was described as a city of thievery, prostitution, murder, bribery, and a thriving black market. Today, the city's remarkable design and planning continue to inspire awe and curiosity, a testament to the ingenuity and brilliance of the Edo people who built it.

Happy World Heritage Day!


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