With over 1 million inhabitants, Kigali is the capital and the largest city in Rwanda. Its perfect geographical location, in the very central part of the nation, makes it the heart of Rwanda. It is also an important landmark for its population. Far away from the ocean, Kigali has grown because it is a precious commercial crossroad along the colonial routes, first, and the African nations then. If you come to visit Rwanda, looking for exciting safaris or history, you cannot miss Kigali. There you will find the relaxing atmosphere of a modern city, quite similar to the typical western capital. Come enjoy the “city of many colours”.
History of Kigali
Kigali was founded in 1908 by Richard Kandt, a physician and explorer. He belonged to the German settlers who ruled Rwanda from the 18th century to 1914. Kandt had studied the history of this central region, which was already important during the Bantu tribes’ kingdom in the Middle Ages. So he imagined a town that made it even more important. Kigali was a trading place, with hotels, shops and schools. When Belgium conquered the German territories of Rwanda, Kigali was already a very efficient town so it became the colonial capital again.
It remained a small town – 6000 inhabitants – though, and only in 1962, after Rwanda’s independence, it started to get larger and larger. In the 1990s it was already a medium sized young capital. The Civil War and the genocide crimes heavily affected it. After 1994, the city reached 1 million residents, also because of the arrival of many refugees. It is now trying to open to tourism, also by making an attraction of its own history. Including the war.
What to see at Kigali
Kigali has been starting a new life since 2000, so there are few real monuments to admire, in the city. You can certainly visit the brand new Convention Centre, with its many-coloured high dome. The building was completed in 2016, has a beehive shape and reminds of the most famous King’s Palace in Nyanza. If you like art and culture, do not miss Inema Arts Centre. Here the best art works of African and international artists are exposed.
History lives at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where you will learn about the terrible Civil War of the 1990s. In the evening, take a walk along the streets of Nyamirambo. This is the quarter of lovely shops, nice mosques and typical food. Or you can climb the nearby Mount Kigali so to enjoy a view of the capital’s lights, at night. A few hours drive from the capital you can explore Akagera National Park (2 hours east) or Lake Kivu (3 hours drive to the west).
More information about Kigali
The Rwandese capital city has a small but very efficient International Airport . It welcomes flights from Africa, Turkey and northern Europe (Belgium and Holland), plus many local flights. The city is also well connected with Kampala (Uganda) and Burundi via national bus services. You can move through the city by minibus, taxis or rented cars.