In most parts of the world snakes are feared, but in Benin they are revered. Royal pythons are worshiped in Benin, especially in Ouidah. The good news is that royal pythons are not dangerous, but the bad news is that these sacred reptiles are welcome Beninese households where they are fed when the doors of the temple are opened at night. There is no fear when the locals welcome these slithering pythons into their living rooms like an honoured guest.
The Temple of Pythons is a small room of twelve square meters that houses 50 adult royal pythons. Take a picture with a python around your neck or stroke the snakes if you are scared of being strangled. Several shrines were built for offerings to the 'snake-god' Dagbe, but the biggest offerings come from the tourists who pay $1.50 to enter the Temple of the Sacred Python. Voodoo shrines and other relics can be viewed for this entry fee, but taking photos with the snakes can be costly.
Tourists negotiate fees in a small circular building full of pythons and many will testify that other types of “snakes” tend to get more money that needed from scared tourists. On one side of Ouidah’s central square, the catholic basilica towers into the sky to represent the Christian influence, but the python temple on the other side draws more tourists. Benin is known for its alternative ideas such as Voodoo and the snake fascination and Westerners will see new things that may leave their skin crawling or lead to snakes crawling on their skin!