Ouidah

Overview

Introduction

Once one of Africa's largest slave-trading centers, the 2.5-mi/4-km path from Ouidah to a slave ship that was walked by so many can still be followed. Along the way, there is a memorial to those who passed there before you. Through the diaspora, this eerie colonial town is responsible for exporting vodou around the world. There are a number of important sites related to the religion throughout the town. The Temple des Pythons is a bit of a tourist trap where you can wrap the reptiles around your neck or waist. Snakes represent the god Da, or Dan, who is the bringer of fertility and life.

The restored 18th-century slave fort, Sao Joao Batista, houses a museum of vodou. There's a large vodou-fetish market behind it. On the edge of town is the sacred forest of Kpasse, where some of the trees are said to be former Kings and others are said to have predicted who the new King of Ouidah should be. Statues of vodou divinities have been added to the forest's statuary. 20 mi/30 km west of Cotonou.

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