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The small coastal town of Ouidah is a town of art, color and culture. Sculptures line the streets and art galleries display the best of local talent, but it's the town itself, glowing in a hundred hues in the golden evening sun, that is the real work of art. Ouidah, though, is more than just an artistic masterpiece. It's also a place of nightmares. It was here, during the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, that countless thousands of Africans were crammed into the dungeons of the fort to await transport to the Americas. Today, one of the largest contingents of visitors are African-Americans who walk the town's "Route des Esclaves" in ...

The small coastal town of Ouidah is a town of art, color and culture. Sculptures line the streets and art galleries display the best of local talent, but it's the town itself, glowing in a hundred hues in the golden evening sun, that is the real work of art. Ouidah, though, is more than just an artistic masterpiece. It's also a place of nightmares. It was here, during the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, that countless thousands of Africans were crammed into the dungeons of the fort to await transport to the Americas. Today, one of the largest contingents of visitors are African-Americans who walk the town's "Route des Esclaves" in search of their roots. Further bad dreams can be found in the town’s Voodoo culture, easiest experienced in a temple slippery with slow-sliding sacred pythons or during the town's extraordinary Voodoo festival held each January. But wherever you go in this town the sacred and the magical permeate the air; fetishes fill the markets, Voodoo priests are pillars of the community, Kings transform into trees in a sacred forest and every now and then a God or Voodoo spirit slips away down a colorful side alley.

Stuart Butler
About the Expert

Based in the French Basque Country, Stuart Butler writes guidebooks for Lonely Planet and Bradt on France, Spain, Norway and large parts of Africa and South Asia. He also works with numerous international surf magazines exploring the remoter coastlines of the world.

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Stuart Butler for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Ouidah, also Whydah or Juda, is a city on the Atlantic coast of Benin.
  • Language: Fon language, Aja language, Yoruba language and French
  • Currency: CFA Franc
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    October-February is generally sunny and dry with warm to hot temperatures.