The 12 palaces ( listed as UNESCO sites), spread over a 40 hectares (99 acres) area at the heart of the Abomey town in Benin, formerly the capital of the West African Kingdom of Dahomey.
The Kingdom was founded in 1625 by the Fon people who developed it into a powerful military and commercial empire, which dominated trade with European slave traders on the Slave Coast until the late 19th century, to whom they sold their prisoners of war.
At its peak the palaces could accommodate up to 8000 people. The King’s palace included a two-story building known as the “cowries house” or akuehue.
Under the twelve kings who succeeded from 1625 to 1900, the kingdom established itself as one of the most powerful of the western coast of Africa.