Kampala Travel Guide
Introduction to Kampala
Like many other African cities, Kampala is often seen as a place where you fly in and out of prior to and after the adventures you experience elsewhere in the country. However, this city is measurably less chaotic than other centres around the continent, making it a great place to spend a few days during your trip to Uganda.
Cultural Attractions in Kampala
Uganda is home to a significant minority of Muslims, with 16% of the population of the country professing Islam as their faith. The most significant religious monument for this population is the Gaddafi National Mosque, which stands out as one of the most unique buildings in Kampala.
Known in the present day as the Uganda National mosque due to the death of the former Libyan dictator in 2013, this imposing structure was a gift to the country by Gaddafi, and was completed in 2007.
Non-Muslims are permitted to visit the largest mosque in Africa outside of prayer times. Besides being a stunning example of Islamic architecture in the middle of Eastern Africa, views of the surrounding city from its minarets make this attraction worth visiting for avid photographers.
While the majority of Ugandans are Christian, there was a time in this country’s history when believing in this religion was a threat to your very existence. The Munyonyo Martyrs Shrine is more than just a cathedral, it is a place of remembrance for 45 high profile Ugandan Christians that sacrificed their life for their religion.
In 1885, King Mwanga, perceiving the growth of Christianity in Uganda to be a threat to his power, he ordered the execution of high profile practitioners within the country, which included recent converts within the royal court.
The present the cathedral is built on the spot to where these martyrs were death-marched and then killed. This shrine has been the site of papal visits over the years, including one made by Pope Francis in 2014, making a secret place for Christians in Africa.
Those interested in the former kings of Uganda will want to pay a visit to the Kasubi Tombs. Designated as a UNESCO world heritage site for its almost exclusive use of organic materials for the construction of these royal mausoleums, it had suffered hard times recently due to a fire that had destroyed many of the structures.
However, restoration work is underway thanks to the assistance of the government of Japan, making it likely that these tombs will be rebuilt in the very near future. Sprawling over 64 acres, there is much to take in, so be sure to budget a few hours in order to properly appreciate this attraction.
Other Attractions in Kampala
If you are looking to get a background on the past history of this nation before you move on to other destinations, be sure to spend a couple of hours walking the hallways of the Uganda Museum. Opened in 1908, it is easily the oldest museum in Eastern Africa, and owing to its age, it has acquired a body of artifacts that is the envy of its neighbors.
Its ethnography gallery of more than 100,000 pieces in its collection, but it is also well known for its exhibits that contain musical instruments, humanoid fossils, and one that has a recreation of a traditional Ugandan village, which can be found in the museum’s backyard.
Self-governance is a relatively new trend throughout much of Africa. Uganda is no different in this experience, as it only gained its freedom from British rule in 1962. In Kampala, you can find a modest but powerful tribute to that time by visiting Independence Monument.
Depicting a mother lifting her child to the sky, it captures the pure joy that many Ugandans felt the moment they realized they were in control of their own affairs once more.
Finally, geography nerds will not want to miss the chance to visit the Uganda Equator. Located within an easy day trip from the center of Kampala, you will have the opportunity to stand in both hemispheres at the same time.
While many of the attractions located here are rather touristy, it is a fun and lighthearted way to spend part of the time you’ll have in this rather adventurous part of the world.