The must-see destinations in Abuja 

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Abuja is one of the world’s fastest-growing cities. It is a metropolis which is full of life and has a lot of attractions to visit. The city is home to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and its official language is English, so it is highly accessible to tourists. Here are a few must-see destinations in the capital. 

Abuja is a modern, cosmopolitan city, located in the Federal Capital Territory in the centre of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and the sixth most populous country in the world. As Nigeria’s political and administrative capital, it is home to the Three Arms Zone, the headquarters of the Three Arms of Government (The Supreme Court, the National Assembly and the Presidential Villa). 

A relatively new city, Abuja was largely built in the 1980s. It is known for being a ‘planned city’, specially designed to become the capital, so the Nigerian government could be located in a place that was independent of the three major ethnic groups, the Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa-Fulani. The city is nicknamed “The Centre of Unity”.

Abuja is one of the world’s fastest-growing cities. It is a metropolis which is full of life and has a lot of attractions to visit. The city is home to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and its official language is English, so it is highly accessible to tourists. Here are a few must-see destinations in the capital:

Aso Rock

Aso Rock is a prominent monolith located on the outskirts of Abuja. Boasting a height of 400 metres, it is the most noticeable attraction in the city’s skyline. “Aso” means victory in the native language of the area’s indigenous people, the Asokoro ethnic group. Surrounded by the Three Arms of Government, the attraction is home to The Aso Rock Presidential Villa, the most protected presidential state house in Africa, which has seen countless visits from world leaders since the 90s. 

Visitors can enjoy various activities at the rock and its surrounding area. The beautiful scenery and lush vegetation around the rock make it a great location for hiking, nature walks, and picnics. There are also guided tours of Aso Rock and the Aso Villa, where visitors can learn about the rock’s rich history and cultural significance to the Nigerian people.

Millennium Park

Millennium Park is the largest public park in Abuja, with a size of 80 acres. Located in the Maitama District, it has a scenic walkway with fountains and night lights and greenhouses for butterflies and tropical birds. It is also home to a large system of terraces that reflect the different vegetation zones across the country, including mountain vegetation, savanna, deciduous forest, rainforest and brushwood.

Commissioned in 2004 by Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II of England, the park was designed by Italian architect Manfredi Nicoletti, who also designed Abuja’s tallest artificial structure, the 170-metre Millenium Tower.

Photo Kritzolina

Millennium Park offers visitors a great place to enjoy a picnic or walk their dogs. The park’s beautiful night lights also make it accessible in the evenings.

Sarius Palmetum and Botanical Garden

Sarius Palmetum is a commercialised botanical garden that boasts a range of indigenous plants and palm trees and is believed to have the only known Cannonball tree still in existence in West Africa. The garden is also home to the popular Cilantro Restaurant, one of the best plugs for Indian food in Abuja, and Fresco Sandwich, a food truck located in the corner of the garden. 

Visitors can tour the plant nursery in the garden, take pretty pictures of the lush greenery, eat at the restaurants or have a picnic with their food. Sarius Palmetum is a great spot for nature lovers who enjoy basking in the beauty of nature.

Entry into the garden costs N1,000 for adults and N500 for children. To bring in digital cameras, visitors must pay an additional fee of N10,000 – N15,000, and renting a picnic blanket costs an additional N500.

Thought Pyramid Art Centre

The Thought Pyramid Art Centre is an art museum that features a variety of local artwork, exotic pieces and wooden sculptures, among others. Founded in 2007 by creative director and curator Jeff Ajueshi, the space was created to collect, conserve, and appreciate contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora. 

The art centre is located in Wuse 2, an area in northwestern Abuja that is known as the city’s heartbeat because of its fascinating nightlife scene. There is also a restaurant called Spice Platter next door that serves a range of Nigerian and continental dishes. Visitors can enjoy a meal here after visiting the centre.

There is another branch of the centre located in Ikoyi, Lagos, in southwestern Nigeria.

Tobix Recreational Park and Garden

Tobix Recreational Park and Garden is a multi-purpose public park that was built in 2012.

and a unique events centre as well as having exotic trees, palms and flowers, the two-acre park is also characterised by a range of attractive features, including a badminton court, walkways, topiaries of different shapes, sculptures, waterfalls, fountains, ponds and gazebos. It also has a children’s playground equipped with play toys. 

The park is known as a great location to host large cultural events and attracts an array of visitors, including celebrities and notable figures. It also has restaurants that serve grilled fish, roasted plantain, drinks and more. 

Abuja National Mosque

Abuja National Mosque, also known as the Nigerian National Mosque, is a notable landmark that stands out in the Abuja skyline. It is centrally located along Independence Avenue, not far from the National Christian Center.

The mosque was built in 1984, following the government’s decision to make Abuja the capital of Nigeria, instead of Lagos. Prominent state leaders lobbied to build an institution that would serve as a centre and symbol of national unity for Muslims in Nigeria, which birthed the idea for the Abuja National Mosque.

The mosque is topped by a huge, eye-catching golden dome on its rooftop, as well as four smaller ones at each of its corners. The interior of the mosque is characterised by gold accents, grand chandeliers and high ceilings. It also features an Islamic centre, a conference room and a library, as well as living quarters for the mosque’s Imam and other important Islamic figures. To one side of the mosque’s parking lot, you have the National Mosque Shopping Mall, which includes a 2-storey plaza with small shops that sell Islamic attire, books, souvenirs and memorabilia. 

Generally, the mosque’s ornate architecture and next-door shopping mall make it a great attraction for visitors to go for an informative tour, as well as shop. It is open to the public, except during congregational prayers.

The National Christian Centre

The National Christian Centre, also known as the National Church of Nigeria, is a non-denominational Christian church building, located in Abuja. It is the main centre of worship for Christians in Nigeria and is often used to host large religious gatherings, state dinners, and cultural festivals.

The church started being built in 1989 but was not finished until 2004 after the Christian Association of Nigeria lobbied for its completion. It was built in a postmodern, neo-gothic style, and designed by Nigerian architecture firm Darchiwork Group. It is characterised by multi-coloured stained glass windows and several pivoted arches with a wide nave leading to a rotating altar at the centre of the church. The centre’s most eye-catching design element is a 63-metre centrepiece tower which carries a crucifix and represents the biblical Tower of Babeland. 

The church is open to the public for guided tours when it is not being used for Christian ceremonies.

Estelle Uba 

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