The Vernacular Architecture of the Hidden Ancient Irefin Palace, Ibadan, SW Nigeria

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Ingenuity and wisdom, speaks the creative works of art which were wrought by the aged hands of our ancestors. These can be seen in the way they designed and built their houses and palaces in the days of old. These relics lie strewn across our fast growing cities in Nigeria; we walk and drive past them every and pay little or no attention to them. These works have more to teach us about our values and history as a people and as a nation than even the much diluted present-day media.

Here is an ancient palace, said to be over 200 years old, was built with mud and timber (wood), and yet still standing strong on the soils of Ibadan city, southwest Nigeria. This palace is located in the tropical rainforest region of Nigeria, enduring over two centuries of countless rainfall and sunshine, and has not collapsed. This palace is definitely a unique cultural, scientific and historical object we must do all we can to preserve.

The Irefin palace belongs to one of the Royal families of Ibadan.The Irefin clans were warriors in the days of old who settled in the Ibadan area known then as a resting settlement for travelers. The palace was the abode of a powerful chief in Ibadan enclave, called “Ba’ale Irefin”, who ruled from 1912-1914. Preserved at the ancient palace are ancient diaries showing old records of events that took place at the Erefin Palace in the olden days. Among the numerous rooms in the palace are the clan’s ‘spiritual powerhouse’ and the judgment room where misunderstandings within the clan are resolved or punishment meted out to the iniquitous. It is worthy of note to mention here that a part of the palace was used in the popular old Nollywood movie Saworoide. It is however sad to know that the palace, although still occupied by the Irefin clan, is not treated as a historical object of great worth. The environment is dirty and not well taken care of, as dirt litter the floors and corners, and smokes from cooking fire places staining the old walls and roofs with sooth. See photos of our recent visit to the ancient palace here. Some old photos of the Irefin Palace taken in 1985 (scroll down to see) show that at some point between 1985 and now, some parts of the palace was redesigned/reconstructed as it looks a little bit different.

The photos below demonstrate some of the vernacular architecture features of the Irefin palace:


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Gable-roof entrance of Irefin Palace.


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Beautiful and Interesting fascia board design at the entrance to the Irefin Palace.


Irefin Palace Ibadan Naijatreks_003_photo credit-berry dakara blog

Arch-styled bottom roof rafters at the gable-roof entrance to the palace.


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Noice the wide corridor between the pillars at the main entrance and the main doors into the building. (Photo Credit: Berry Dakara)


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(Photo Credit: Berry Dakara)

Irefin Palace Ibadan Naijatreks_007_photo credit-berry dakara blog

(Photo Credit: Berry Dakara)

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(Photo Credit: Berry Dakara)

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Irefin Palace Ibadan Naijatreks_010_photo credit-berry dakara blog

(Photo Credit: Berry Dakara)

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Irefin Palace Ibadan Naijatreks_012_photo credit-berry dakara blog

Notice the arch design and the sculpture by the door post. (Photo Credit: Berry Dakara)

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Creative door design at the palace.

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Wooden staircase to the upper floor of the palace.

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Tourists at the palace climbing the staircase. Notice the ceiling joists.

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The upper-floor staircase landing area. Notice the design on the wooden rails, the wooden floor and wall demarcation.

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One of the rooms upstairs at the Irefin Palace. Notice the interesting panel of windows walling the room.

The Photos Below show Irefin Palace in 1985 (Photo Credit: Arc Akin Yoloye)

Irefin Palace in 1985_photo by Arc Akin Yoloye

Notice how different the palace entrance looks from its present day state.

Irefin Palace in 1985_photo by Arc Akin Yoloye

Irefin Palace in 1985_photo by Arc Akin Yoloye


Thinking of visiting this palace, here is the location of Irefin Palace in Ibadan:

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This article was written by Folarin Kolawole

Founder of Naijatreks, Nigerian-born Folarin Kolawole is a geologist, travel writer and researcher. When not at work, he travels the length and breadth of Nigeria, exploring, taking photos and writing about her numerous hidden tourist potentials.   'Naijatreks' is a product name registered under the Ntreks brand, which is also duly registered by Nigeria's Federal Corporate Affairs Commission. The contents on this blog are re-usable. However, it must be ensured that it is linked back to this blog, and correctly attributed to Naijatreks or the author. Please do not edit, rewrite or commercialize the original works on this blog without direct and written permission from the Founder (Folarin Kolawole). For inquiries and advert placement on the blog, kindly contact us at info@naijatreks.com or naijatreks@gmail.com.


moonwaterdreamer@hotmail.com' ABBANovember 6, 2015 at 1:49 pmReply

Great work with your site, it is a pleasure to travel through you. This palace is beautiful!!!! Such a shame that Nigerians struggle with job shortages, when the jobs are right there!!! With the right infrastructure, security and above all professionalism, Nigeria could have a thriving and economically viable tourists and art industry.

Nevertheless, thank you for showing us all these unknown and beautiful locations! 🙂

toluxy007@gmail.com' toluajayiNovember 6, 2015 at 5:56 pmReply

Hey Folarin
Nice article you have got. I love the blog… I don’t mind if you hire me in providing contents and series for your portal ooh. Am a businessdeveloper/ writer and content developer for a core ekocitymagazine. Check out engineeringnews.ng. That’s one of the portals I manage on daily basis. I hope to get a feedback from you.

NaijatreksNovember 8, 2015 at 10:01 pmReply

@toluajayi…thanks for your interest in writing for us. We will send you an email so that we can discuss further.

berrydakara@gmail.com' Berry DakaraNovember 7, 2015 at 9:25 pmReply

Our trip with you guys here was a memorable one.

I often recall the state of the palace and the fact that sites like these all over the country are not maintained and supported properly by the government. Such a shame.

Berry Dakara Blog

NaijatreksNovember 8, 2015 at 1:38 amReply

@Berry, thanks for your comment. You were so much an amazing travel participant on our tour to Ibadan.