The Old Palace is one of the most prominent features on oke-Idanre (Idanre hills). It served as the residence of the monarch of Idanreland (called the Owa of Idanreland) for a number of centuries until the people decided to migrate from the hills into the valley and establish new settlements in the current locations of Odode, Atosin, Owena etc.
The palace sits atop one of the highest mountains in Idanreland, and was located there as an additional means of protecting the ancient palace from the threat of external aggressors. The palace consists of several mud-brick buildings all surrounding a central courtyard, which likely served as the hub of activities such as visits to the King, celebrations and the place for receiving the king’s judgement.
Leading from the courtyard is the ancient Arokunso pass (with staircase) through which the king escapes in times of danger or war. For example, around June 1928, during the internecine clash between the traditional worshippers of the Orosun deity and the Christian community, Owa Aladegbule Aroloye was noted to have navigated his way through the Arokunso pass.
The Owa’s private garden called ”Ogwa” was located at the foot of the hill behind the Old palace. The Owa would go into the garden through the staircase for some quiet time, away from the pressures of public duty. This tourist attraction is still in existence but is now rarely used except during special festivals every year.
Upon entry into the palace, one is welcomed by wooden statuettes that depict the diverse participants in the activities of the palace such as priests and priestesses, male and female servants and Nupe warrior guardsmen.
Close to the Owa’s throne is a chamber containing cow heads that serve as a type of royal calendar. On the anniversary of the Owa’s ascendancy to his throne, a cow head is placed in the chamber. At the end of his reign, the number of cow heads are counted and this is used to confirm how many years the Owa ruled.
25 kings have used the ancient Owa’s palace and the royal calendar, with many of them blessed with longevity.
The old Owa’s palace is a beautiful testament to the community spirit, wisdom and glory of ancient Idanre people.