If a location, region, structure, or urban center has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, then it is considered to be of exceptional cultural, historical, or physical value and deserves particular protection. It can also refer to a place of historical significance, such as a museum or a section of pristine wilderness that has been designated as a national or regional landmark.
With over 250 distinct ethnic groups and languages, Nigeria truly represents the concept of a multicultural society. The residents have tremendous pride in their diverse cultural heritages and deep family histories. Its history is reflected in the preservation of historic buildings, streets, and landmarks.
The top ten Nigerian heritage sites recognized by UNESCO are as follows.
10. The Sungbo’s Eredo and Iya of Benin
There are a number of defensive walls known as the Sungbo’s Eredo and Iya of Benin that are located in the states of Ogun and Edo in the southwest region of Nigeria. According to legend, the walls that came to be known as Sungbo’s Eredo were erected in honor of a female chief named Bilikisu Sungbo. Archaeologists later disproved her story’s link to the biblical Queen of Sheba. It is believed that the Eredo walls were the inspiration for the ‘Iya’ (walls) of Benin, which are among the largest earthworks in the world.
9. The Sukur Cultural Landscape
Sukur is in the Madagali area of northeastern Nigeria in the state of Adamawa. The landscape around Sukur consists of stone roads, dry-stone walls, and dry-stone dwellings with terraces atop them. The terrain is dotted with religious buildings like the palace of the chief and other temples that attest to the region’s once-thriving iron industry and reflect the material culture and spiritual ideals of the ancient people who built them.
8. The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Groves
Outside of Osogbo, some 220 kilometers from Lagos, are the Osun sacred woodlands. One of the most popular deities in all of Yorubaland, Osun is revered for her role as a fertility goddess. The shrines, sculptures, and other works of art strewn across the forest are reminders of a time when humanity set aside land outside of urban centers as holy ground for the worship of deities. The Osun-Osogbo grove is nestled in the heart of one of the most extensive high forests in southern Nigeria.
7. The Old Oyo
Old Oyo, in southwestern Nigeria, is the site of the first Oyo settlement, currently known as Oyo-Ile. Conflict with Hausa/Fulani raiders in the 18th century led to the abandonment of Oyo-Ile. There are remnants of the palace compound, walls, and a water reservoir on the land inside of Old Oyo National Park, all of which were built by the people who formerly called the place home. Wells, cisterns, and grinding hollows are all telltale signs of a substantial previous community. The park is also home to the well-known Agbaku Cave, which served as a safe haven for soldiers of the Oyo-Alaafin Kingdom during times of conflict.
6. The Ogbunike Caves
The Ogbunike Caves can be found in a valley within the tropical forest of Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria. The state government constructed a stairway down into the valley, a straight walkway with 317 steps. There are about 10 separate chambers inside the cave that are connected by a network of passageways. The caves are visited by many streams, one of which originates within the cave system and flows out into the Nkissa River. Because of the spiritual significance of the caves to the local community, a festival is conducted annually to mark the anniversary of their discovery. While bats make up the majority of the cave’s population, other animals from the surrounding tropical rainforest, such as antelopes, porcupines, and snakes, also make their homes there.
5. The Ogbaukwu Caves and Waterfall
Located in the southeast Nigerian state of Anambra, the massive Ogbaukwu caves offer enough room for a whole village to live inside. Little is known about the caves because they are rarely visited, but legend has it that a brave warrior once slaughtered a pride of lions that made their home there. Lots of people come to see the waterfalls since they’re so gorgeous.
4. The Oban Hills and Landscape
Oban Hills is a part of Cross River National Park, which is located in Nigeria and borders Cameroon’s Korup National Park. Since the Oban Hills are home to a wide variety of species, including the Nigerian-Cameroonian chimpanzee, there have been extensive efforts to preserve the area’s natural habitat.
3. The Idanre Hills
The hills of Idanre are located in Ondo State in southwestern Nigeria, roughly 300 kilometers from Lagos. There are 680 stairs leading up the hills, and there is indecipherable script carved into the rock. The hill also features a magical footprint that can be molded to fit any foot. Colonists built Idanre’s courthouse and nearby prison in 1906, while the town’s first primary school dates back to 1896. The inner court of the Oba’s palace is also a famous tourist attraction, because to the variety of sculptures that have been erected there over the years. In October of 2007, Idanre Hill was added to the list of cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
2. The Ancient Walls of Kano and Associated Sites
The earthen city wall stretches for 14 kilometers in the northern part of Nigeria, connecting such landmarks as the Dala Hills, Kurmi Market, and the Emir’s Palace. To ensure the safety of the growing population in prehistoric Kano, a city was built, and its inhabitants were part of a precolonial civilization and political system. The current building is an addition from the 16th century, while the walls were supposedly completed in the 14th.
1. Alok Ikom Stone Monoliths
Alok Ikom monoliths are a group of roughly three hundred carved, upright stones found at Ikom, Cross River State, Nigeria. They stand in a wide variety of heights, and most of them face each other in concentric circles. Even though academics believe the monoliths’ imagery and inscriptions represent a form of primitive writing, no one knows what they imply. The monoliths can be observed in a number of different spots in the Alok Ikom area.