Located some 30 kilometers from the modern Zimbabwean town of Masvingo, the stone ruins of Great Zimbabwe are today one of the continent’s most impressive monuments, linking the present with the past.
A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986, the archaeological remains contain the largest ancient structure in sub-Saharan Africa.
350kms from Harare lies the great stone structure called Great Zimbabwe: a ruined city that was once the capital of the kingdom of Zimbabwe which existed from approximately 1100 to 1400 during the country’s late iron age. The first thing that draws the visitor’s eye is the high level of craftmanship that went into the construction of the site. Skillful stonemasons built massive dry-stone walls, incorporating large natural boulders into some of the structures. Walls extend between rocky outcrops and massive rocks, forming a maze of narrow passageways and enclosures.
The monument at its peak could have housed up to 18,000 people. Great Zimbabwe acted as a royal palace for the Zimbabwean monarch and the seat of their political power. One of its most prominent features were its walls, some of which are over five meters high and which were constructed without mortar. Eventually the city was largely abandoned and fell into ruin.
There are no air connections to Great Zimbabwe and the best way to visit is to either drive from Harare or the eastern highlands. For those not wanting to drive themselves, some safari companies offer organized overland tours that include this magnificent structure.
For those interested in history or for those who just want to explore this massive and unique structure plus other nearby attractions we recommend the ‘Lodge at The Ancient City’.