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UNESCO world heritage sites Nigeria are cultural sites preserved for historical and cultural reasons for the generations unborn. Nigeria is home to over 180 million people with 371 ethnic groups. The official language is English with the Lingua Franca being Nigerian Pidgin which is a type of Creole language. Nigerian Pidgin originated from Niger-Delta and is spoken in most West African Countries.

Nigeria is home to beautiful cultural sights and resorts to be visited by tourists. Vecta travels the best travel agency in Nigeria lists:

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nigeria

1.Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove

About 1370 AD, the founder of Oshogbo land, Oba Gbadewolu Larooye and a great hunter, Olutimehin settled in the sacred Osun forest to establish the kingdom. Thereafter, actualised a pact of association and togetherness with the River Osun deity. The pact is being rekindled every August of each year. This brought about the Osun-Oshogbo festival that has culminated into the World’s largest tourist attraction.

The sacred Groove was pronounced a World Heritage Site by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Durban, South Africa on 15th July 2005. This sacred forest along the banks of the Osun river is outside the city of Osogbo, Osun State. Osun-Osogbo Grove is among the last of the sacred forests which usually adjoined the edges of most Yoruba cities before extensive urbanisation.

Osun-Oshogbo festival is a week-long event that attracts Yorubas and other Nigerians deeply rooted in culture and tradition.

an arcade marking the entrance to a part in Osun groove

 2. Sukur Cultural Landscape

Sukur Cultural Landscape is an ancient settlement with a recorded history of iron smelting technology and flourishing trade. The community dwellers believe in the supremacy of one god (Zhigla) with shrines where sacrifices and libations are made to appease the deity. They also believe in the existence of spirits and supermen (Matlayang). These spirits perform special assignments on behalf of the community like the construction of the palace gates and the paved walkways. The people are also guided by strong taboo that prevents sacrilegious actions from taking place for the overall wellbeing of the community

Their cultural landscape was listed as a World Heritage Site by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1999 due to the location and intimidating architectural designs of the palace, terraced fields and village made up of stones.

Sukur Cultural Landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on a hill above the village of Sukur in the Adamawa State of Nigeria. It is situated in the Mandara Mountains, sharing a border with Cameroon.

Sukur world heritage landscape


3. Oke Idanre Cultural Landscape, Ondo State

It’s a wonderful tourist site and its major access road consists of 670 steps with handrails on both sides and five resting points in between. Idanre township is usually filled with visitors during the Ijan and Orosun festivals. Since Idanre is home to a large number of Bats, the villages have a festival yearly to celebrate this.

Other festivals include the Ogun festival which is partly celebrated on top of the hills in Octobers. Ife festival which spread over a period of seven days makes the site a living tradition.

From time immemorial, the site has been a centre of tourism activities attracting different tourists. It is a reservoir for medicinal plants which are sought by herbalist for preparation of potions. The site also has great potentials for archaeological, geological and natural history research. The political and cultural life of present Idanre is tied to the old Idanre thereby serving as an umbilical cord among the people. All new kings are crowned at the top of the hill with initiation rites also performed there. The Owa’s palace is a historic building where the Owa (King) still performs all traditional rites and festivals in Idanre Land. The elders discuss issues relating to the town at Oritagun shrine in the old Idanre. township.

Prof. Wole Soyinka, Nobel Prize winner for Literature wrote his longest poem titled “Idanre and Other Poems”.

idanre hills and its environs

4. Ogbunike Cave, Anambra State

Ogbunike cave was discovered by a hunter named Ukwa during his hunting expeditions about the 14th century. He is from the Umudioka family of Ifite Anambra state. The cave is situated in a valley with tropical rainforest behind the Ogba hills on which lies St. Monica College, Ogbunike.

The Ogbunike Cave, which is located in Oyi local government area of Anambra State was part of the sites listed as national monuments by National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM)

Water drops from the top of the open chamber which is said to have healing powers and drains into the Nkisa River. On the wall of the chamber, are graffiti. The history of Ogbunike town will not be complete without the mention of the cave. It was a shield to the people during the Nigerian Civil War in 1967 to 1970. It is also used as a place of justice for erring members of the community.

Ogbunike cave


UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nigeria

5. Kano City Wall and Associated Sites, Kano State

Kano City wall is 14km long, built from 1095 through 1134 and completed in the middle of the 14th century. The reason for building the wall was for the protection of villagers from invaders. Being subjected to encroachment and collapse contributed to the present state. National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) listed Kano City Wall as a National monument for preservation.

a section of kano city wall

6. Oban Hills and Associated Cultural Landscape, Cross River State

Located in Cross River State, Oban Hills is locally called Egui Oban by the natives. It is owned and managed by the community as well as state government.Oban hills cover an area of approximately 3000km/s, next to the Korop National Park in the Republic of Cameroon. It is located at Oban, Akamkpa local government area of Cross River state.

This natural habitat is home to 350 recorded bird species including parrots. It is one of only two sites in Nigeria where Xavier’s Green bull was seen. Also, a rich variety of mammal species dwell in the Oban forest such as forest Elephants, Red Colombus Monkeys and the Sclater’s Guenon that is found only in Nigeria.

Oban hills

(Source: Deji Adeyi)

7. Ogba Ukwu Cave and Waterfalls, Anambra State

Ogba Ukwu Cave and Waterfalls is also Owerre-Ezukala Cave. It is four kilometres from the town and is accessed through a winding, untarred road. From afar not much can be seen asides for the road covered with stones. Like the deciduous forest where the cave is located though fenced with wire mesh.

Traditional worshippers see Ogba Ukwu Cave and Waterfalls as the seat of god. The cave complex, including the waterfall, is accessed through the gate on a concrete walkway made of 99 steep steps. The cave has four major entrances to the chamber called Palace or lion cave. The natives believed that this was the palace where God the creator (Chukwu) lived and attended to petitions. Due to this, festivals take place at the site on every last Saturday of the month of May to celebrate.

At the foot of the step is a massive rock of about 75 meters high from where the water gushes down into a pool (waterfall). One could walk behind the waterfall to explore the rest of the cave. An open space covered by protruding rocks is visible immediately after the waterfall.

Ogba Ukwu caves and waterfall


8. Erin Ijesha Waterfalls, Osun State

Erin Ijesha waterfall is at Oriade local government area of Osun State amidst high hills, rainforest vegetation, and mountain. Akinla, the daughter of Oduduwa discovered it about 1140 AD as a mysterious creation of Olodumare. Erin Ijesha waterfall is also Olumirin waterfall which welcomes over 30,000 visitors yearly. The waterfall witnesses a high number of visitors during the celebration of the popular Osun-Osogbo festival.

Olumirin waterfall has seven layers of rock with the water gently gliding down the rocks and plummets with a great force at the base.The sound of the cascading water blends with the natural and idyllic environment of the waterfall.

Erin ijesha waterfalls

9. Ikogosi Warm Spring, Ekiti State

It is Located in Ekiti West local government area of Ekiti State, the waterfall has separate chambers for warm and cold water which then joins in a pool with each retaining its temperature. The warm spring is in a valley of the surrounding hills with a vegetation of highly thick forest. A tree and a palm grew from the same source at the meeting point of the warm and cold springs.

ikogosi waterfall

10. Obudu Mountain Resort, Cross River State

Obudu Mountain Resort, formerly known as the Obudu Cattle Ranch. The resort is on the Obudu Plateau close to the Cameroon Border in the north-eastern part of Cross River. It is approximately 110 kilometres east of Ogoja and 65 kilometres from Obudu town in Obanliku local government area.

Mr. McCaughey, a Scot who first explored the mountain ranges in 1949 and camped on the mountaintop of the Oshie Ridge on the Sankwala Mountains for a month. He returned with Mr. Hugh Jones and Dr. Crawfield fellow ranchers in 1951 to develop the Obudu Cattle Ranch. Using cable cars to and fro allows visitors a scenic view while bypassing the extremely winding road to the top.

Obudu mountain resort

11. Olumo Rock

Olumo Rock is an ancient formation of granite rocks, which is located in Abeokuta, Ogun state. The rock is a monument to the traditional religion of the Egba people. They believe it protects them always especially during interracial wars, the people take refuge in the caves. The peak of the rock is 137m above sea level with natural caves, some of which are up to 20 ft long and 25 ft wide. Olumo Rock is one of the favourite tourist attractions in Ogun State.

Tourist’s climb up the man-made stairs carved into the rock on irregularly sized rocks (or ladders which are now provided) through a narrow corridor that leads to the top of the rock. All along the way, catch sights of carvings in the rock, cowrie-studded statues and the ancient abode of the priestesses who live in huts on the rock. NCMM and the state government commissioned lifts to convey tourist to the top and back down.

These are just a few of the historical sites for tourist to see, there are more which are specific to different states. Have you been to any of UNESCO world heritage sites in Nigeria? Tell us about it

Olumo rock

(Source: Lonelyplanet)

Have you been to any of these world heritage sites? If yes, we would like to hear about it.

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