Tourist Cultural Sites in Kampala City : Uganda is a country with a strong cultural heritage as demonstrated by the numerous cultural sites and tribes in the country. There are about 65 tribes in Uganda, each group with it’s own unique language, cultural practices and norms. In history, tribes were under the leadership of a traditional King or chief. These Kingdoms and Chiefdoms wielded so much power and influence that the presidents then decided to abolish them. It was only about 30 years ago that the president revived them. The most popular cultural encounters in Uganda are the Batwa community in Bwindi region, the Ik and Karamojong people in northeastern Uganda. On a Uganda cultural tour, visitors have an opportunity to understand the culture of these indigenous groups by visiting a family or attending their cultural performances. During your visit to Uganda, particularly Kampala city, you still have the opportunity to experience a cultural tour. Below are some renowned destinations for a cultural city tour in Kampala;
Kasubi Tombs in Buganda Kingdom
These tombs are one of the main treasures of the Kingdom of Buganda and a leading attractions in Kampala. The tombs are found 6 kilometers away from the city center in Kampala. The tombs are a UNESCO World Heritage site and receive (used to receive) thousands of visitors in a year. You can easily reach it from Makerere University using the road to Rubaga and Mengo. The Kasibu tombs are the main burial grounds for the Kings (Kabakas) of Buganda as well as other royals. Four Kings of Buganda are buried in the tombs including Mutesa II, Mwanga II, Daudi Chwa and Mutesa I.
Kings Palace in Mengo and Parliament (Bulange)
The Lubiri or Mengo palace is one of the residents of the Kabaka (King) of Buganda. It has a striking colonial architecture and covers an area of four square miles. The palace was built in 1885 and is hence a great place to go if one is interested in learning more about the history of the Baganda. The current Kabaka no longer uses this palace after it was attacked by government forces during the reign of his father Muteesa II. Visitor are free to visit during the weekdays. Just opposite the palace is Buganda’s main parliament locally known as Bulange. You can attend one of the parliamentary sessions to witness how the elders of Buganda are discussing issues pertaining to the Kingdom.
The Uganda Museum
The Uganda museum was built to help preserve Uganda’s history. The museum is without doubt the best place to visit if one is interested in learning about Uganda’s history and cultural heritage. This history and heritage is demonstrated through a collection of instruments, artifacts and recordings. The Uganda Museum was first built in 1908 but has undergone a series of renovations in the interior to give it a more modern look. Several instruments and tools are available to describe or demonstrate what Uganda was and is. They include musical instruments, traditional weapons (spears, arrows and bow), drums and archaeological remains to mention but a few.
The Kabaka’s Lake
Kabaka’s lake is found close to the palace in Mengo on the outskirts of Kampala city. The Lake was created on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II in 1880 to open an escape route through Lake Victoria in case of a civil war. The lake covers an area equivalent to five acres of land with calm waters that are home to beautiful birds and other wildlife. During his time, Kabaka Mwanga would swim and fish in the lake. The Kabaka didn’t achieve the dream of creating a channel to Lake Victoria though and the lake remains isolated. Visitors can go swimming, sport fishing or relaxation along the beautiful shores. There have been challenges maintaining the water level of the lake and curbing pollution from businesses operating nearby but it is still a place worth visiting.
Namirembe and Rubaga Cathedrals
Namirembe Cathedral is the most prominent cathedral for members of the Anglican faith in Uganda just as Rubaga is to Roman Catholics. The Rubaga cathedral was built in 1880 on top of Rubaga hill while that in Namirembe in 1903 on top of Namirembe hill. Both cathedrals hold the highest offices of the two Christian denominations. It is where their highest ranking Bishops reside. The cathedrals are filled with Christians from around the city and country every Sunday for a chance to pray in the sacred arenas. The cathedrals also have cemeteries/tombs for former priests and bishops who came as missionaries during the early times of Christianity in Uganda.
Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo
The Namugongo Martyrs Shrine is one of the most visited religious sites in Africa. Each year on the 3rd of June, millions of pilgrim’s flock the shrine to commemorate the death of 25 Christians of both the Anglican and catholic denomination who refused to give up their faith even in the face of death. In 1886, Kabaka Mwanga II of Buganda ordered the death of many Christians whom he felt had stopped respecting him after converting to Christianity. He found foreign religion a threat to his rule and control over his people. Several Christian from all denominations were brutally killed on the orders of the King in an attempt to stamp his authority. June 3rd is a public holiday in Uganda and both protestants and Catholics visit their respective shrines to pay homage to the martyrs.
Tourist Cultural Sites in Kampala City : Katereke Prison Ditch
This ditch is a constant reminder of the brutality of some of Buganda’s Kings. Kabaka Kalema faced opposition from his siblings and decided to do the unthinkable. He captured all his brother and sisters – 30 in total and imprisoned them in a ditch until they all starved to death. The Katereke Prison Ditch is a reminder of this difficult time in the Buganda Kingdom and also the savagery Kabaka Kalema. Despite its connection with the brutality of the paranoid king, the site attracts many international visitors.
The Coronation Site in Buddo (Naggalabi): This site is located in Busiro Country on Buddo Hill and about sixteen kilometers away from Kampala city. Naggalabi is where the Kings of Buganda are crowned from after undergoing several preparations and rituals. Some believe that the Buganda kingdom was established here in the early 14th century. While visiting this coronation site, tourists can step on the very place and path taken by the present and past kings of Buganda. Visitors can also visit some of the other sacred sites in the area.
Tourist Cultural Sites in Kampala City : The Wamala Tombs
Apart from the Kasubi tombs, Buganda has other tombs for their earlier kings. The Wamala tombs holds the remains of Kabaka Suuna 11. Kabaka Suuna is remembered as the first Kabaka (King) to allow foreign traders into Buganda. He had over 150 wives who gave birth to 218 children. The Wamala tombs are built on top of a hill with nice surroundings.
Tourist Cultural Sites in Kampala City : Ndere Troupe Cultural Center
This center is found in Ntinda, a suburb in Kampala. Ndere is got from a Kiganda word “endere” which refers to a flute. The Ndere Troupe Cultural Center is arguably the best place to experience the culture of Uganda as a whole. Traditional performances of tribes from all over Uganda can be enjoyed here. Apart from learning about the culture of the tribes in Uganda, you can order for traditional meals from almost every part of the country. The Ndere Troupe Cultural Center attracts a lot of tourists. It is really the place to be if you are touring Kampala or on a wider cultural trip around the country. You don’t have to worry about accommodation because they have decent accommodation facilities at a good price.
Tourist Cultural Sites in Kampala City : Baha’i Temple
The Baha’i Temple in Uganda is the only one of its kind in Africa. It is very popular with both local and international tourists. The eye-catching temple is built on a large 30-hectare piece of land in Kikaya Hill (Kampala). It has beautiful gardens that are ideal for relaxation and meditation. The Baha’i temple is open to all religious groups. The temple is a unique piece of architecture with windows that can filter light coming from the sun. Visit this temple to learn about the Baha’i faith, pray or relax by the beautiful gardens that offer amazing views of Kampala city.