Ilorin is one of the few state capitals popular than the State itself. Ilorin city(mostly referred to as “the home of peace”) is the state capital of Kwara; having a total land area of 765 square km (295 sq m) and a total population of about 777,667 as at 2006 making it the 6th largest city in Nigeria by population. A city which has grown in population and investments has been blessed with various sites for tourist attractions. Some natural while others man-made. This article aims to reveal notable tourist attraction that can be found in Ilorin, Kwara state, Nigeria.
Ilorin was founded by the Yorubas in 1450 when it became a provincial headquarters for the Oyo empire until when Shehu Alimi took control of it, making it part of the northern protectorate.
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Islam and Christianity are the two common religion widely practised in this city. The present day Ilorin has moved a far distance from the 1450’s Ilorin. It has shown signs of a growing city with large investment inflow.
The city is the home of tourist attractions, a mall, radio houses and a 20,000 capacity stadium which houses the only standard baseball court in West Africa.
It is also home to a Federal university known as the University of Ilorin and a private university Al-Hikmah University. Below are tourist attractions that can be found in Ilorin.
1. National Museum Ilorin
The National Museum Ilorin created in 1988 and located in the Government Reserved Area of Ilorin (GRA) is a centre for enjoyment, relaxation, education and entertainment.
It has an archaeological, craft shop and ethnographic unit which exhibits Nigerian cultural artworks and art pieces such as Igbo-Ukwu, Owo, Ife, lower Niger Bronze (Tsoede) Esie Soapstones and Benin culture etc.
It also has on display Nigerian pottery as an ancient form of art which has ceremonial, decorative,ritual uses etc.
It gives out export permit to international visitors who wishes to travel out with any piece of art.
The museum preserves 1,500 soapstones which were discovered in 1933. The stones has resemblance to children,women, men and animals.
The museum also has an hairdo centre where traditional hairstyles can be made at moderate charge, a barbing centre built with the Hausa traditional building design, a kitchen for traditional foods, and finally an art club primarily for kid’s education on art.
2. Sobi Hills
The Sobi hills derives its name from the Sobi community in Ilorin, Kwara and is situated near Harmony Estate. It is a combination of two major rocks which is about 394 meters above sea level and offers a beautiful view of the surrounding areas.
It is sometime regarded as the highest point in Ilorin and serves as a watershed. Its lush vegetation and breathtaking landscape makes its a premium tourist attraction in Ilorin and it is a good point for quiet reflection and meditation.
3. Okuta Ilo Irin
The name Ilorin was derived from this. Okuta-Ilorin (a stone for sharpening iron) is the stone which Ojo Isekuse one of the early founders of Ilorin used in sharpening his iron tools.
The stone was previously deified and worshipped until recently became an important monument for people to see. The stone is located in Asaju’s compound in Idi-Ape quarters.
6. University Of Ilorin
Including University of Ilorin popularly called Unilorin is not a mistake. The university is the biggest in terms of landmass and has a beautiful landscape and terrain but the most important tourist attraction here is the university zoo and dam.
The university zoo is located before the school gate and houses wide range of animals( snakes, Lion, horses, Giraffe, funny monkeys), plants, a suspended bridge picnic site and a playground for kids.
All of these aimed at bringing a pleasant recreational experience. Tents are present in the garden for a wonderful picnic experience and for those who wish to experience the thrill of climbing a suspended canopy walkway, the university zoo is surely a place to be. Bringing kids along is nothing to worry about as the kid playground is available for kids to have fun.
The school water park located in the main campus is a resort centre and perfect place for family time. The presence of canoes, canoe riders, local tents and waterfalls has made it the perfect Saturday hangout spots for friends and families including tourist who wishes to experience the euphoria of the Ilorin weather. It is open for all visitors all year round.
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7. Dada Pottery
Ilorin boasts the biggest traditional pottery workshop in Nigeria the largest of which is the DADA pottery workshop located at Dada, Okelele quarters in Ilorin.
It is a wonderful tourist site as beautifully moulded cooking pots, flower pots, frying pots and water storage containers are produced and sold on the spot to anyone who wish to have such magnificent artifacts.
8. Ilorin Metropolitan Park
Formerly called Amusement park, the Ilorin Metro Park is set in a very strategic area of Unity Area, Ilorin. This houses the harmony mall and a recreational park where visitors and locals are entertained and relaxed at the same time.
9. Residence And Mosque Of Alfa Alimi
For the Muslim readers especially this is a place to be. Alfa Alimi an Islamic scholar from Fulani came from the north to Ilorin to preach.
He then decided to settle in Ilorin prompting him to build a mosque and a place of residence in 1831. His mosque was the first mosque where Jumaa prayer was observed in Ilorin and both the mosque and residence is located behind the Emir’s palace in Ilorin. It is still being used till date to offer routine prayers and special prayers occasionally.
Other site of tourist attraction situated in Ilorin include the Kwara Cultural Centre for Arts, Kwara Stadium Complex, only purpose built baseball park, Emir Palace, Hide and Skin Tanning Industry, Traditional weaving centres.
Others notable tourist attraction near Ilorin/ Kwara state include the Owu falls, Pategi beach, Mungo Park Cenotaph, Ero Omola waterfall, Ningurume Fish Pond etc.
So if any of you wonderful readers are opportune to visit the serene growing city of Ilorin, have it in mind that there are so many places waiting for you to explore. Do not stay indoors, visit all these wondrous places and learn about the long forgotten culture of our ancestors. Hope you had a good read.
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