The Python Temple Ouidah is one of the many sacred places in the Benin republic. Temple Des Pythons as it is often called in French, has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Benin Republic. Your visit to the Benin Republic would not be incomplete without visiting the Python Temple.
Africa is known for its safari, mangroves, forests and nature reserves. The continent is blessed with beautiful culture, landscapes and lots to see. From the beaches in West Africa, and the ancient cities in North Africa to the wildlife in East Africa and the beautiful cultures from South Africa. Though Africa is known for so many things. Religious tourism is less explored. Voodoo religion is one of the many practices in the Republic of Benin.
What to Know About Benin Republic
The Benin Republic is a quiet country located in West Africa. It shares a border with Nigeria, Togo, Niger Republic, and Burkina Faso. The capital of the Benin Republic is Port Novo, while Cotonou is the economic powerhouse. The major languages spoken in Benin are Fon, Yoruba, Dendi and Bariba. While the official language is French.
In the 17th Century, the area now known as Benin Republic used to be known as the Kingdom of Dahomey. A popular slave coast region during the 17th Century. The city was popular for the slave trade just like the Point of No Return in Badagry, Nigeria.
About the Sacred Temple
The Python Temple or temple des python as its often called is one of the many voodoo shrines in the Republic of Benin. They dedicate the shrine to the Pythons. This is because Pythons are sacred animals in the Benin Republic.
The Python temple is a sacred temple for voodoo spiritual worshipping.
The temple features between 40 and 70 Pythons lying around without restraint. The pythons are harmless and would not hurt anyone. You need to tread with caution when moving around the temple as the snakes roam freely. According to the locals, If you kill any of the pythons there are both legal and spiritual consequences.
The temple has become not just a religious centre. It has become a symbol of spiritualism and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Benin Republic. A visit to Benin republic without visiting the Python Temple would not be complete.
Why The Pythons?
Generally, Pythons are wild animals but the reverse is the case in Benin Republic. They guard and protect this creature.
Legend has it that the King of Ouidah while running from his enemies during the inter-tribal wars. He took refuge in the Forest, while in the forest, he was protected by the pythons who prevented his enemies from capturing him. After the war, he erected three huts in honour of the pythons. To this day, the people still worship the Pythons. They are sacred in the Republic of Benin
Inside the Python temple
The temple is a round-shaped concrete building with clay roofing. Inside the temple is a hole like an underground house where snakes of different sizes from 2 feet to over 6 feet are kept. The Pythons are usually released to the wild once a month to feed. Once they feed, they return to the shrine, the ones that do not return will be taken to the shrine by people who the Pythons might have paid a visit.
The snakes often roam about to hunt and search people’s houses for food. It hunts mice and other smaller animals.
It is important to note that this is a sacred site so kindly adhere to their rules and regulations.
The Confluence of Two Religions
Unlike other parts of the world, Benin is a peaceful country, irrespective of their religious beliefs, the citizens are very tolerant of one another. The site of the Benin Python Temple is located opposite a church known as the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. It is a catholic church and it is built in front of the shrine. Everyone does their thing without interfering with each other’s activities.
It’s quite ironic having a Sacred Voodoo Temple right in front of a Catholic church.
In Benin Republic, there are two types of Pythons, the Dagbe Dre and the Dagbe Kpohoun. The male and the female Pythons, one is bigger while the other is smaller.
Gate fee to Python Temple
Entrance to the Python Temple comes at 1,000 CFA, If you want to take photos, you will be mandated to pay an extra 1,000 Naira. In total, you will pay 2,000 CEFA. This is approximately $4 and 2,000 Naira.
Things to do at the Python Temple
- Learn about the culture and tradition: This has become a tourist favourite destination. It is a good place to learn about the culture, religion and the way of life of the people.
- Take A Picture with the snakes: This has become one of the fun things to do when you visit the python temple.
- carry The snake: Carrying a snake might sound creepy, but when it comes to snakes at the temple, they are as gentle as a dove and won’t harm people. Feel free to carry them.
- Buy Souvenirs from the gift shop: The temple has a gift shop where tourists can buy souvenirs, artworks, woodworks and gift items.
Note: It doesn’t matter whether you believe in voodoo or not. Please kindly respect other people’s religions. Even if you don’t believe in their practices, please respect them.
How to Get to Python Temple
Depending on where you are in Benin Republic, you need to find your way to Ouidah. Ouidah is 45 minutes from Cotonou. Once you get to Ouidah. You can ask for directions to the Python Temple.