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Essen, Germany

Soul of Africa Museum

Tucked away in a small German apartment is an eclectic museum devoted to West African vodun culture. 

Hidden away in an Essen, Germany apartment is a small museum devoted to the traditional beliefs and rites of Western Africa. Touching on secret societies, magic, healing practices, voodoo, zombies, and ancestor spirits, the museum is a unique look at some often misunderstood spiritual practices.

Established in 2000 by photographer and ethnographer Henning Christoph, the five-room museum is filled with an eclectic mix of artifacts, tools, and artworks from West African vodun culture. The rooms are packed with sculptures and figures from different tribes and include an altar to Mami Whata, a water spirit, where you can bring sacrifices for the goddess. Also on view: elaborate costumes used in ancestral worship rites.

In addition to the extensive collection of religious artifacts, there is a good portion of the site that is devoted to the Atlantic slave trade, displaying historical artifacts from the dark period, including brutal and crude iron shackles. 

Christoph has worked and studied voodoo among different tribes for a long time and has documented these practices extensively. His collection, while not exactly what one might to expect to find in a German apartment building, is a unique chronicle of his work—as well as a hands-on glimpse into a fascinating world of religion and belief.