The Nine Ancient Gates Of Benin City

The Nine Ancient Gates Of Benin City

                     Ancient Benin City

Benin City, the ancient Edo Capital of Great Benin Kingdom is still surrounded by a huge mound of earth known as "Iya", the inner wall, which is as high and as wide as a two storey building, reputed to be longer than the "Great Wall of China". Outside this wall is a ditch as deep and as wide as the wall itself, surrounding the most
important part of Benin. 

The wall and the ditch were still quite new when the Portuguese first came in 1472 A.D. A massive fortified earthwork entrance gate guarded travelers' way in.

The Gate was supported by timber and watched by soldiers with swords slung under their left armpits. A heavy wooden door built to specification closed the gate.

Normally, a traveler bringing goods into the city would have to pay a toll before the gate was opened.

Ahead of the travelers as far as they could see, ran a long street, forty yards wide, full of people, and among them the occasional goats or hen, domestic animals. 

About a mile ahead, they noticed a huge tree standing by itself, and beyond that
the road still ran into distance.

There were high earthen walls, dull red colour, carefully smoothed into a series of horizontal ripples. The tops of these walls were roofed to prevent them being washed away by the rain. 

A great thatched gate could be seen guarded by more soldiers and beyond this gate was a glimpse of steeply sloping roofs and pointed towers. 

At the top of each of these towers, the evening sunlight gleamed on bronze eagles.

From the main highway ran a number of broad streets, dividing the city into quarters or wards.

The streets were clean and free from rubbish. The ward Chiefs were responsible for the cleanliness. Each householder was expected to keep his section of the street clean, and the red mud surface of the house walls neat and polished, till, as one European was to say “it shone like a looking glass”.


1ST GATE: The Benin-Ughoton road was a gate way for oversea trades, leading over many centuries of the prosperity and enlightenment which go with trades, had the main Gate leading to Benin City on Oroghotodin Road at the inner moat before Uzebu. 

2ND GATE: Another gate was situated at the moat near Oguola Avenue in the present Benin G.R.A.; a trade route of those from Ikpokpan Ugbor and the Iyokeogba districts. 

3RD GATE: The Idunmwu- Ivbioto gateway of the traders from Nana and Warri districts .

4TH GATE: The Utantan gate way, controlled the routes from Ugu Iyekeorhionmwon district. 

5TH GATE: The Ogiso Oke-Edo gate way of the trade routes from Ugo N’eki, Ika, Urhonigbe, Ukwuani, Aniocha and Onitsha. 

6TH GATE: The Okhoro trade routes controlled all trades from Eyaen, Ehor and Esan districts.

7TH GATE: The Ifon gate way Controlled the trades from Ifon, Ora, Ivbiosakon and Etsako districts and also from Lagos, Ibadan, Oyo and Ife.

8TH GATE: The Urubi gateway controlled all trades from Uselu, Ekiadolo, Igbogor, Usen districts. 

9TH GATE: The Oloton gate way controlled the trades from Isiuloko, Ogbese and other riverine areas.

Written By Aroh Anthony 

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