A royal palace is a residence of a ruler or monarch. The name originates from latin but has been adopted allover the world in various forms of languages such as palais in French, palace in English, pallazzo in italian, palacio in Spanish among others. Many people know of the impressive large buildings mostly in the European countries that are or were formerly official residences of former kings, queens and royalty.
The African continent currently having only 3 governmental monarchies today, has had many monarchical governments before the colonial period. With colonisation and abolition of most royal societies to create todays country boundaries, these former royal governments are now traditional entities still holding alot of power and respect in their respective communities. Palaces or royal residences therefore exist today in Africa both for kings who reign as governmental monarchs as well as traditional Kings and rulers. The palaces however are called in various forms of Indigenous names.
Palace of the King (Tor) of Tiv people, Nigeria
This palace is the official residence of the King (Tor) of Tiv people of Nigeria. It was built by the Benue state government for the king who also serves as the chairman of the Benue state Council of traditional obas/kings.
Prince Mohamed Ali Palace/ Al Manial Palace, Egypt
Chief Mkwawa Palace, Tanzania
Chief Mkwawa Palace located in Iringa is the official residence of chiefs of Hehe people of Tanzania, currently held by Chief Adam Abdul Sapi Mkwawa Mfwimi II. It has been handed down from father to son since 1949. The palace like many others built by Royal tribal monarchs of Tanzania is known locally as ikulu which also means state house.
Sultan of Gaoui Palace, Chad
Official residence of the Sultan (Kotoko) of Gaoui, today in the republic of Chad. The palace is built in the traditional African architectural styles and has eixsted to date with only a few modern refurbishments. Nearby is also the museum that displays different traditional artefacts including the huge jars that dead people were placed in fetal position.
Emir of Gusau palace, Nigeria
Gusau Emirate palace, the official residence of HRH Emir Alhaji Dr Ibrahim Bello of Gusau Emirate, Nigeria
Sultan of Damagaram Palace, Niger
The Sultan of Damagaram Palace is the official residence of the Sultan of Damagaram. It is located at Zinder, Southern Region of the Republic of Niger. It is a major tourist and historic cultural attraction site due tonits old architecture.
Bukumu kingdom, DRC
Buhimba royal residence or palace is one the official residence of the King of Bukumu kingdom (chefferie de Bukumu), Nyirangongo Territory, North Kivu province of Democratic Republic of Congo. It was destroyed during the war in 1996 and is being rebuilt. On the same grounds are some graves of the late kings.
Kazembe kingdom, Zambia
Mwata Kazembe royal Palace, the official residence of the Mwata Kazembe (Paramount Chief or Senior Chief) of Kazembe lunda kingdom of Zambia. It was built in 1950 by the 14th Mwata Kazembe who died before occupying it.
Barotseland/Lozi people, Zambia
The King or Litunga of Barotseland kingdom or Lozi people of Zambia has two official royal residences which he moves to and fro through the famous kuomboka ceremony. The main Palace is the Limulunga royal palace built in 1932. It is called the winter palace located on higher grounds which the king moves from the lealui palace (summer palace) located in the floodplains during the rainy season in a ceremony called Kuomboka ceremony meaning to get out of the water.
Biu Emirate, Nigeria
The Emir of Biu Palace is the official residence of the Emir of Biu, Borno state, Nigeria
Nzima Kotoko, Ivory Coast
The King of Nzima Kotoko people of Ivory Coast and Ghana official palace residence is located at Grand Bassam, the capital of the Kingdom.
Oba of Lagos Palace
The Royal palace of the Oba (King) of Lagos, Nigeria. It is usually called Iga idunganran. It is major tourist attraction site in Lagos. It was looted during the End SARS demonstrations in Nigeria but has been fully restored.
Loango kingdom, Congo Brazzaville
The royal palace of Diosso, Loango kingdom, Congo Brazzaville is the official residence of HM King Moe Makosso iv of Loango / Lwaagu kingdom, Congo Brazzaville region. It was built by the government of Congo Brazzaville for the king and his two wives. It is located ij the town of Diosso which is also the royal capital of the precolonial kingdom formed in 1600.
It is located near the Loango regional museum
Buganda, kingdom, Uganda
Mengo Palace (Lubiri) – Mengo Palace or Lubiri is the official royal residence of King or Kabaka of Buganda kingdom, Uganda since 1885. The current modern building was built in 1920s to repalace the traditional palace located at mengo hill. However it was destroyed during the mengo war and used as barracks from 1966 when Milton obote and idi amin forces overthrew the first president of Uganda who was also King or Kabaka Mutesa ii of Buganda. It has fully been restored since 1997. On the palace grounds are the underground chambers which idi amin turned into torture chambers. Also the Rolls royce used by the late King and burnt by idi amin can be seen here.
Saalama Palace is a private royal residence of the buganda royal family, Uganda.
It was built in 1934 by King Kabaka Daudi Chwa ii, grandfather of the current King.
It was inherited by his eldest son Prince Kiweewa George Mawanda Chwa who didn’t become king as it is tradition. His descendants reside here today.
Banda Palace is a private royal residence of HM King (Kabaka) Mutebi ii Ronald Muwenda of Buganda kingdom, Uganda. He built it in 1993 after his coronation from land he had inherited from his late maternal grand father.
It is located in Banda estate and is not open to the public.
Kireka Palace is a private royal residence of HM King (Kabaka) Mutebi ii Ronald Muwenda of Buganda kingdom, Uganda. He built it in 1993 after his coronation from land he had inherited from his late mother lady Sarah Kisosonkole. It contains the private offices of the King, Queen and staff
Nkoni Palace is a private royal residence ofthe King of Buganda kingdom, Uganda.
This palace was built in 1955 by the people of Buddu and was presented to their King late Kabaka Mutesa ii after his return from exile. Currently his son is king Kabaka Mutebi ii Ronald Muwenda.
Baamunaanika Palace is a private royal residence of the buganda royal family, Uganda.
It was built in 1934 by King Kabaka Daudi Chwa ii, grandfather of the current King.
Lukunyu Palace is an unoccupied palace of the King or Kabaka of Buganda kingdom, Uganda.
The 48 acre land residence was the beloved private residence of late King Kabaka Mutesa ii, first president of Uganda. It is located in an island on lake Victoria.
It is under renovation by his son the current King or Kabaka Mutebi ii Ronald Muwenda of Buganda kingdom, Uganda.
Morocco is one of the three remaining governmental monarchies in Africa. The King of Morocco has 4 official residences he uses with the main one being the Royal Palace at Rabat (El Mechouar Essaid palace), the capital city. The four primarily known as Dar al-makhzen are located at the four different towns. They include
- Royal Palace Rabat – primary residence located at the capital city Rabat
- Royal Palace Fez – located at the city of Fez
- Royal Palace Marrakesh – located at the city of Marrakesh
- Royal Palace Casablanca – located at the city of Casablanca
Eswatini formerly Swaziland
The Kingdom of eSwatini formerly Swaziland is the last absolute monarchy in Africa. The Kingdom is known for its royal culture which attracts tourists from all over the world. The royal family is huge such that everyone in the country could be related to the royal family in one way or another. The royal family includes the current King’s family, late King Sobhuza’s family and all royal descendants. The official royal palaces and residences include
- Lozitha Palace – official residence of the King Mswati III
- Embo state Palace- official residence of late King Sobhuza II, built by the british for the king. It is not occupied or phographed as it is considered sacred.
- Ludzidzini Palace – official residence of the Queen Mother or Indlovukati, Queen Inkhosikati laMatsebula and Queen Inkhosikati laMotsa. It is the venue for the traditional royal events like the reed dance
- Nkoyoyo palace – residence of Queen Inkhosikati laMbikiza
- Ngabezweni royal residence – Queen Inkhosikati laNgangaza
- Naleni royal residence – Queen Inkhosikati laMagongo
- Phondo royal residence – late Queen Inkhosikati laMasango
- Chibini royal residence – late Queen Inkhosikati laDube
- Lobamba royal guest house
- Buhleni royal residence
- Hlane royal residence
- Mekemeke royal residence
Nyanza Royal Palace, Rwanda
Nyanza royal palace (Ingoro) or King’s museum located at Nyanza was the official residence of King Mutara iii Rudahigwa of Rwanda and Queen Rosalie Gicanda of Rwanda until his death in 1959. It includes a modern stone palace built in 1932 by the Belgians for the new King and a traditional style palace used by previous kings of Rwanda. Today it is a museum that offers a window into the royal Rwanda past. It includes personal effects of the late King and Queen and the Inyambo long horned royal cattle.
Nearby there is also another palace that was built for the late King Mutara iii Rudahigwa between 1957-1959 but he died before occupying it. It is known as Rwesero art museum.
Queen mother Kankazi of Rwanda also used to have her own residence at shyogwe in the 1939 onwards after she was moved away by the belgians to reduce her infleunce on her son which the belgians did not like. The fate of this residence is not known but now it is an empty courtyard with views of the nearby mountains Mushubati & Kanyarira and stone shrine of the virgin . However it attracts local tourists every year.
Palace of the Kings Bell of Douala or Sawa people of Cameroon
Palace of the Kings bell is a former royal residence inhabited by the Kings of Douala or Sawa people of Cameroon. It was constructed in 1905 for King Augustine Manga Ndumbe Bell by the German colonials. The residence still belongs to the royal family
Oba of Benin Palace, Nigeria
The Oba of Benin palace is a newly constructed residence of the King or Oba of Benin kingdom, Edo State in Nigeria. There is also a older traditional style palace that was used by previous kings.
Burundi royal residences
The former kingdom of Burundi had royal palaces and residences both traditional and modern that were used by the royal dynasty. The traditional palace (Ingoro) or ibwami (Royal court) was located at Gishora hill in Gitega and is today a museum that showcases Barundi culture such as the royal sacred drums. The sacred drums are today preserved and played by members of the batimbo clan, belonging to the Banyagisaka lineage. The World famous Royal drummers of Burundi have continued this royal tradition. Muramvya, Mpotsa and Nkiko-Mugamba has also been included a UNESCO world heritage tentative list due to its connection with royals, in Mbuye where the coronation enthronement rituals were held and Mpotsa where the Queen mothers were buried.
King Mwambutsa iv of Burundi had his personal residences which after the abolition of the monarchy in 1966 under his son’s reign King Ntare v Charles Ndizeye were sold or left in inhabitable state. In the 1990s before her death, last Queen Baramparaye of Burundi visited the abandoned palace.
Ethiopia Imperial Palaces
Ethiopia, the only country in Africa that was not colonised had been a monarchy that has been linked to having origins from King Solomon and Queen Sheba. The monarchy ended in abolition in 1975 after its existence since 1270s. The emperors of Ethiopia had various modern palaces and residences that mainly sprung after contact with civilization. They include
- National Palace formerly Jubilee Palace – built in 1950, it became the main residence of Emperor Haile Selassie after an attempted coup in 1960. Today it is the president’s official residence. The Unity Park is also located on the palace grounds.
- Imperial Palace / Menelik palace / The Gebi – this is a royal compound that included, palaces, monasteries chapels etc. It was the main seat of government and in 1965 was the venue for the royal banquet during Queen Elizabeth’s ii visit. Today it is the residence of the prime minister
- Guenete Leul Palace – it was a former residence of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and his family built from 1930 until an attempted coup in 1960. He later gave the building to Haile Selassie University which is today called Addis Ababa University. The building was renamed Ras Makonnen Hall and is a museum showcasing the late Emperors bedroom, bathroom and changing rooms.
- Bahir Dar or Tana Palace – this is the less known summer palace of the late Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia located on Bezawit hill in the green town of Bahir Dar next to the Lake Tana. It is currently not open to the public.
- Massawa palace – this is the only imperial Palace located outside of Ethiopia today. The damaged palace which was a summer residence for Emperor Haile Selassie is located in the coastal town of Massawa now part of Eritrea but formerly part of Ethiopia and briefly the navy capital of Ethiopia. It was destroyed during the war and bombings and today is easily accessible to anyone.
Royal palace of Tripoli, Libya
- The Royal palace of Tripoli in Libya was the official residence of the first and last King Idris i of the Kingdom of Libya before abolition of the monarchy. After the Coup by Muammar Gaddafi it was turned into a public library.
- Al Manar Palace, Benghazi – this former palace was donated by King Idris i of Libya to the University of Libya as the first campus.
Sultan of Bamoun Foumban Palace, Cameroon
Foumban Royal Palace is the official residence of the sultan of Bamoun people of Cameroon. It was built in 1917 by the 17th sultan Ibrahim Njoya and today is inhabited by his great grandson the 20th sultan Nabil Mbombo Njoya. Nearby also is a snake designed museum for the bamoun script.
Foumban Royal museum located next to the Foumban royal palace of the sultan King of Bamoun people of Cameroon. Built by late HM King Sultan Ibrahim Mbombo Njoya of Bamoun kingdom, It is designed in a snake spider style which is an important animal to the bamoun and part of the emblem used by the monarch. Two headed Snake to symbolise – victory and power, spider to symbolise hardwork and double Bell which was used by king to rally the army for war. The museum contains royal robes, thrones, jewellery, arms, musical instruments, other cultural artefacts and the bamoun script.
Ooni of Ife palace, Osun state, Nigeria
The Ife royal palace, official residence of he current HM 51st King or Ooni Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja ii of Ife, Osun state, Nigeria. Built by his predecessor 49th late King or Ooni Oba Adesoji Aderemi of Ife in 1937, today it has been renovated to a white palace.
Wa Naa’s Palace, Ghana
Wa Naa’s Palace is the official residence of the King of the Wala people of Ghana, Upper west region. Built in the 19th century using mud bricked walls and y shaped wwocolumns, it is an important cultural place in the Wa town.
Manhyia Palace, Ghana
Manhyia Palace is the official residence of the King or Asantehene of Ashanti people of Ghana at kumasi the capital of the Ashanti kingdom. The old palace was built in 1925 and became a museum in 1995. A new palace was built by late Asantehene Opoku ware ii which is the residence of the current monarch.
Tooro Kingdom palaces, Uganda
Tooro or Toro Kingdom is a traditional monarchy that is recognised in Uganda. It is mainly inhabited by the Batooro people who are ruled by a King called Omukama in local language. The current King or Omukama is Oyo Rukidi IV who at one time was world’s youngest king when he succeded his later father in 1995 at the age of 3. Tooro kingdom official palace (Ekikaali) is called Karuziika located on Kabarole hill at Fort portal. It is open to the public except on royal occassions. The palace at Fort portal was destroyed by Idi Amin and his forces in 1970s but was renovated with assistance from Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi. There are also other 6 smaller palaces that were used by former kings around the kingdom. The King’s private residence is at Kampala.
Busoga kingdom Palace, Uganda
Busoga kingdom is a traditional monarchy recognised by the government of Uganda. It is the Kingdom of the BaSoga people who are ruled by an elected King called Kyabazinga. His main residence is Igenge palace or Kyabazinga palace located at Igenge hill in the city of Jinja.
Akyem royal palace, Ghana
Akyem royal palace is the official residence of the King or Okyenhene or Okyeman of Akyem traditional kingdom, Ghana.
Olofa of Offa Palace, Nigeria
The royal palace of HM King/Olofa of Offa, Nigeria (oba Mufutau Gbadamosi Esuwoye ii)
Zulu royal palaces, South Africa
Zulu kingdom is a traditional kingdom of the Zulu people in South Africa particularly in KwaZulu Natal region. Zulu kingdom has 8 official royal palaces used by the King, 6 Queens and his family. Most palaces are located at Nongoma with the exception of Ondini palace which is located at Ulundi. They include
- Osuthu Royal Palace – official residence of the King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu of Zulu located at Nongoma. On the palace grounds is also the the huts uses by King Dinuzulu Zulu.
- Khethomthandayo Royal Palace – Royal residence of the King, his first wife Queen Sibongile Dlamini Zulu and family.
- KwaDlamahlahla Royal Palace – Royal residence of the King, his second wife Queen Buhle Mathe Zulu and family.
- KwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace – Royal residence of the King, his third and great wife Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu and family. Queen Mantfombi is sister to King Mswati iii of Eswatini
- Linduzulu Royal Palace – Royal residence of the King, his fourth wife Queen Thandekile Ndlovu Zulu and family
- Enyokeni Royal Palace – Royal residence of the King, his fifth wife Queen Nomphumelelo Mamchiza Zulu and family. It is located a few metres from Osuthu Palace. This royal residence is also the traditional palace of the Kingdom where the traditional royal ceremonies and festivities take place e.g the zulu reed dance or umkhosi womhlanga.
- Ondini Royal Palace – Royal residence of the King, his 6th wife Queen Zola Mafu Zulu and family. This royal residence is located at Ulundi and was previously the residence of his great grandfather late King Cetshwayo Zulu. His palace was burnt by the British in 1897 as retaliation after Zulu army defeated them at the battle of Iswandlana.
- EMachobeni / ingwavuma Royal Palace – this is also another Royal residence of the King of Zulu Kingdom, South Africa.
Oba Elegushi Palace, Nigeria
Oba Elegushi Royal Palace is the residence of the King or Elegushi of Ikate kingdom, Nigeria. This modern palace was built by the late King Elegushi Oba Yekini Adeniyi Elegushi Kunsela ii to update from the old traditional palace used by his predecessors. It is currently the residence of his son King or Elegushi Oba Saheed Elegushi Kunsela iii. This is a private residence
Karuziika Royal Palace, Bunyoro Kitara, Uganda
Karuziika royal palace is the official residence of the King or Omukama Solomon Iguru i of Bunyoro kitara kingdom, Uganda, Queen (Omugo) Margaret Adyeri of Bunyoro kitara kingdom and their children. It is located at Hoima city, the Kingdom’s capital.
Olugbo of Ugbo Palace, Nigeria
The Olugbo is the King of Ugbo kingdom or Ugboland in Ondo state, Nigeria. The modern palace is currently inhabited by the King (Olugbo) oba Akinruntan, who is also has been rated the richest King in Nigeria and second in Africa.
Emir of Gumel Palace, Nigeria
Gumel Royal Palace is the residence of the Emir of Gumel Emirate, Jigawa state, Nigeria. The current Emir is Dr Alhaji Dr Ahmed Muhammad sani ii.
All photos courtesy of Gumel Royal Palace
Bokassa Berengo Royal Palace, Central African Republic
Berengo palace was the famous Royal residence of the self proclaimed Emperor Jean Bedel Bokassa of Central African empire now central African Republic. It was famously said to have been his residence with his only crowned wife Empress Catherine Denguiade.
Today the palace is abandoned but there have been efforts from the Bokassa family to turn it into a museum with help from the government. On the grounds lies his grave.
Sultan Ali Dinar of Darfur Palace, Sudan
Sultan Ali Dinar palace museum was the residence of the last reigning Sultan Ali Dinar of Darfur sultanate before its incorporation into the British colony of Sudan. The late Sultan Ali Dinar died in battle fighting the British in 1916.
Today a modern palace has been built in Darfur which is a museum showcasing his relics and personal artefacts.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Sultan of Zanzibar Palace
Zanzibar was a sultanate off the coast of Tanzania before the monarchy was overthrown and zanzibar incorporated into tanganyika to form Tanzania. The zanzibar royal family were descendants of the sultans of Oman and built many palaces along the east African coast. Among the most famous ones include:
- Sultans Palace – This palace was the official residence of the sultans of zanzibar until 1964 when the zanzibar revolution led to the end of the monarchy. Located at stone town near the ocean, it was renamed peoples palace and is now a royal museum dedicated to the zanzibar royal family especially sultan Khalifa bin Harub and princess Sayyida Salme or Emily ruete who escaped to Europe with her German husband.
- Palace of Wonders (Beit Al Ajab) – located at stone town zanzibar, it was built in 1883 by the second sultan of zanzibar who also built 5 other palaces. It currently houses the Museum of History and Culture of Zanzibar and the Swahili Coast. Truly a house of wonders, it is the tallest building in stone town and was the first building in zanzibar to have electricity and the first in East Africa to have an elevator.
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