Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo

Uganda Martyrs Shrine is a must-see place in Uganda as one embarks on the breathtaking Safaris Uganda City tours and specifically the Kampala City Tour. The Uganda Martyrs Shrine is an iconic architectural structure of the Catholic Church that is located in Namugongo. This magnificent minor Basilica towering the Namugongo area because of its large size is a center of attraction and as you approach the area, you are thrilled with a heroic atmosphere of the Martyrs and a feel of a godly environment of the place.

Uganda Historical and Cultural Tourism Sites

The Uganda Martyrs Shrine is a master centerpiece that was constructed as a dedication to the Uganda Martyrs who died for disobeying the king’s orders to denounce their Christian faith. People from all over the world flock this place on 3rd June every year to remember and give tribute for the 22 Martyrs that were killed at Namugongo during the missionary days in Uganda.

Construction of the Uganda Martyrs shrine

The construction of the Uganda Martyrs Shrine commenced with the support and effort of Cardinal Nsubuga, the late Archbishop Emmanuel, Dr. Danhinden who was the architect, Namugongo Shrine was completed in 1967.Uganda Martyrs Shrine was officially opened by the Popal Envoy His Eminence Sergio Cardinal Pignedoli on 3rd June. On 7th February, 1993, Pope John Paul II came to Uganda on a 6-day visit and made a pilgrimage to Namugongo. While at the Uganda Martyrs Shrine, he elevated the shrine to the rank of a min Basilica.

The Uganda Martyrs Shrine is famously known for its eye-catching size of an African hut architectural shape with its unique interior and exterior. The mini basilica is supported by 22 copper domes over 100 feet long and with a possibility of holding a capacity of 1000 people arranged in circular form in the inside. The doors at Namugongo Martyrs Shrine express the history and the lives of the martyrs.

Brief History about the Martyrs

The arrival of the Catholic and Anglican missionaries in Uganda particularly the Buganda Kingdom set off an incredible change in the activities and running of Buganda Kingdom. In 1884, Mutesa I died and his untimely death left the kingdom in the hands of a young prince that is Kabaka Mwanga II. Mutesa I handled the Kingdom matters with absolute maturity avoiding all possible conflicts, for example, he let his subjects to follow any religious creed of their choice at the time. During Kabaka Mwanga II’s reign, everything went out of control the day he was told by some of the Christian converts to stop doing his sinful acts.

Kabaka Mwanga II received one of the ultimate humiliations when his pages resisted from his homosexual advances which triggered the fateful death of three martyrs that is Yusufu Joseph Rugarama, Makko Mark Kakumba and Nuwa Serwanga who were killed on 31st January 1885 on his orders since he was the authority in the Kingdom. Many more Martyrs were killed in the following year and on 3rd June 1886 was the climax of the campaign against the converts. 26 of these believers in the Christian faith were burnt alive in Namugongo and the last Martyr to die was Jean-Marie Muzeeyi who was beheaded at Mengo on 27th January 1887.

Tour activities at Namugongo Martyrs Shrine

Shrine Tours: The main feature of the area is the minor Basilica structural building that was built on the spot where the majority of the Catholic martyrs are believed to have been martyred. A tour of the Namugongo Shrine and the grounds takes about 30 minutes and you will be given an experienced guide who will answer all your questions about the history and the progress of activities at the Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo. Additionally, you will get to know about the Kabaka(King) Mwanga’s Chief executioner that is Mukajanga and a church leader known as Saint Charles Lwanga who was tortured to death.

The martyrs’ lake and Pavilion: In memory of Charles Lwanga, a page and church leader now a Saint, a martyrs’ lake was dug and today serves as a place that consists of holy water to the believers and hope of miracle in their lives. The middle part of this lake has an island that gives visitors a 360 angle view of this holy place. This is where the main celebrant’s usually preceded over mass on special days like the 3rd of June every year. Also, the grass thatched pavilion is beautifully designed and can accommodate about 300 clergies.

The Community visits: Besides the Uganda Martyrs Shrine, you get the opportunity to interact with the people that reside in the area next to the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine. Most of these have set up local businesses near the area and they will assure you that during special days is when they earn a lot of income since the place is flocked by people who take days living at the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine in the honor of the Uganda Martyrs.

Access to Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo

Namugongo is in Kyaliwajjala Ward, Kira Municipality, Wakiso District and approximately 16 kilometers away from Kampala city center. To reach Uganda Martyrs Namugongo can take you about 30-45 min if without challenges with traffic jam. Depending on the distance of your accommodation, touring Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo can be done at any time of the day.


The accommodation facilities located Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo are quite many and some are within the vicinity of the Namugongo shrine. Many of these range from Luxury, midrange and basic facilities. All offer pretty good services such as free parking, restaurant and bar, the security of your property and transportation means are offered at most of these hotels and they are pocket-friendly. Some of the accommodation facilities you will find include; Namugongo Hotel, Tesh Hotel, Egret Pilgrims Inn, Materwood Hotel, Abba Hotel Uganda, Mamba Point Guesthouse, Grand Imperial Hotel, Fairway Hotel and Spa, and Prestige Hotel Suites among others.

Uganda Martyrs Shrine
Uganda Martyrs Shrine


Conclusively, the Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo, is a tourism centerpiece that should not miss on your list of items to view during your city tours. This holy place is open for everyone regardless of your religion and you will get a chance to learn the history of religion and the past events in Uganda and specifically Namugongo.

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