One country that has an interesting historical background is Togo. As a neighbouring country to Ghana, it shares some similarities with them. With Benin, bordering on the East and Burkina Faso bordering on the north, this country has numerous similarities with their neighbouring countries. One distinct feature about this small country is the countless traditional architecture of some of its buildings. Togo’s historic buildings feature building materials such as clay, wood, sand, stone and palms.

Togo’s historic buildings are numerous, coming in various shapes, sizes and structures. Some of the buildings that stand out are the houses of the Tamberma village, the Old Catholic and Presbyterian churches, the Grand Mosque and the Slave House at Agbodrafo. The History behind Togo’s historic buildings goes way back. Some, even before colonization and independence.

  1. The Houses of The Tamberma Village: The houses in this village existed even before the slave trade in West Africa. Although this tribe was in existence before that period, there is evidence of the Tamberma being from the Somba tribe. The village is in the Atokora Mountain range. The houses were constructed to keep out any intruder, especially the slave hunters who would kidnap people to sell them off. The houses are constructed with mud, branches and straw. On the outside, the whole area of houses appear similar to the ancient European castles.
A section of the houses in the Tamberma village.

2. The Slave House at Agbodrafo: In 1815, right after the installation ceremony in Agbodrafo, this building was constructed. The ceremony was for a section of a clan known as the Adjigo clan. The Adjigo clan, were chased from their original town of Aného. The house was mainly for slaves who were sold to the Europeans. That is how the name: “Slave House” was derived. The building materials are part local and part imported. Some of these materials are; sea sand, bricks and galvanized sheets. It is now one of the frequented sites in Togo.

Inside the Slave House at Agbodrafo also known as Maison Des Esclaves.

3. The Governor’s Palace: The Governor’s Palace: One of Togo’s historic buildings is the Governor’s Palace. The building was constructed with the idea of being an attraction for people approaching the city of Lomé. The building design was made by a joint team of people from Germany and Togo. The architecture is consistent with that of German colonial makes. Some materials used were red bricks, local wood and iron. The Governor’s palace is now used as the seat of presidency in the country.

The Governor’s Palace, popularly referred to as Palais de Lomé.

4. The Old Religious Buildings: The religious nature of the people of Togo is varied. This religious diversity is also prominent in most African countries. There are the traditionalists, the Christians and the Muslims. Due to the colonial era, most people have switched to the Christian and Islamic religions.

There are several Grand Mosques, Catholic churches and Presbyterian churches. There is also the emergence of other beliefs and faiths. One of the old buildings that stand out is the Sacred Heart Cathedral. It is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Lomé. On August 9, 1985, the then Pope, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in the cathedral.

Cathédrale du Sacré-Cœur de Lomé, translated to English as Sacred Heart Cathedral, Lome.

5. Castle/Chateau Viale: Last but not the least of Togo’s historic buildings is this unique building. The castle is situated in the hills to the North of the town of Kpalimé. This structure is made up of a main building and a tower and was built by the French in the 1940’s. Nowadays, the Castle/Chateau Viale is used by the Togolese government for cabinet meetings.

A side of the building: Castle/Chateau Viale


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