The Ancient City on a Hill

The new town of Idanre is what many might refer to as a sleepy town. I beg to differ. The city is not nearly as populated as any part of Lagos but it is buzzing with people and activities in its own rights. And its main attraction, the magnificent hills of Idanre, upon which the ancient city once was, is truly a sight to behold!
Oke Idanre is located in Idanre town, Ondo State. There are several legends surrounding the discovery of the town. One version tells the tale of a fleeing son of Ife who was left amazed by the sight of the hills once he arrived in the town. The name ‘Idanre’ was then coined from his words ‘idan ree’ which translates to ‘Amazing wonders’…
The actual age of the ancient city is not clear. I’ve read in some texts of it being 800 years old and in some others, a thousand. It’s probably safe to say that the ancient city has been in existence somewhere between 800-1000 years.

Hiking the steep steps of the hills to get to the ancient city is no child’s play, (we’ll worry about a cable way much later!) It takes all of 660 steps and then some to get to the top.

There are about five resting points, set 100 metres apart from each other along the way and believe me when I say that you’ll be ecstatic to see them!
Among the attractions atop the hill are the old primary school, constructed out of clay by missionaries in the early nineties, an old prison, a burial ground and the mysterious handwriting on the rock referred to as the ‘unreadable letters of the flood’.
Also up the hill, in the ancient city is the Arun River, which is believed to have healing powers and the Owa’s palace and courtyard.
Collage Top L-R – Old primary school, prison and burial grounds.
Bottom: L-R – The unreadable letters of the flood (Adiye kowe, Oyimbo kaati: a white man cannot decipher a chicken’s writing) and the Owa’s palace courtyard.

Even though the majority of locals have moved down the hill in favor of civilization, the ancient city is far from being abandoned as cultural practices and traditions are still actively observed by some of its people.


*Idanre hills is listed tentatively as a  UNESCO World heritage site.. For my trip, I went with a tour organized by Unravelling Nigeria. Read all about trip here

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