Rwanda is definitely a novel place to be and a remarkable sight to see. With a trove of deep-rooted traditions and celebrated cultures, a visit to the monuments in Rwanda departs from the humdrum sightseeing tours to bring you an enriching experience of scenic colonial buildings. Kigali is Rwanda’s capital city, the country’s most populous city, and the most important commercial center and continues to flourish more than ever. Surrender yourself to the infectious energy of the locals, coated in the beautiful tongue of the Portuguese language, as you embark on this journey. Here is one of the top 10 monuments in Rwanda:
List of Monuments in Rwanda
1. Kigali Genocide Memorial
As one of the most tragic events in human history, the Rwandan Genocide took the lives of many innocent individuals, the identity of whom was not always known. Therefore, the Kigali Genocide Memorial was created to honor and remember over 250,000 victims that were lost in the chaotic time period. Not only does the museum focus on the genocide itself, but also the events that led to its inception in 1994 and the ensuing impact it has on current Rwandan society. This popular monument in Rwanda provides guided tours with staff members, some of whom are survivors.
The majority of those who visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial note a marked difference in perception of human life, especially within the context of preventing similar tragedies from ever occurring in the future.
Address: KG 14 Ave, Kigali, Rwanda
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2. Volcanoes National Park
While the name of the park suggests otherwise, the primary focus of guided tours in this national monument in Rwanda is the numerous families of endangered golden monkeys and mountain gorillas. Just a two-hour drive from Kigali International Airport, travelers in Rwanda can spend one day (or a few) trekking through 160 square kilometers of Virunga Conservation Park to see various birds, reptiles, and, of course, gorilla groups and monkey families.
For those who wish to hike, access to five of the eight Virunga Mountains volcanoes is available for exploration with a guide. Accommodations range from all-access hotels to hostels and lodges, all of which are available with guided tours.
Address: kinigi, Ruhengeri, Rwanda
3. King’s Palace Museum
The King’s Palace in Nyanza, Rwanda, is a museum that allows travelers a glimpse into the country’s monarchal past. Built as the royal quarters for King Mutara III Rudahigwa in 1931, the building is as diligently cared for as it is intricately thatched together. This famous monument in Rwanda itself is large, with panels (in English) that depict the first interactions between Rwandan native people and European settlers. The admission price includes a bilingual tour guide of the complex.
While Rwanda ceased to be a monarchy in 1962, the royal Inyambo cattle live outside it is still given the utmost care by their trainers. The elegant cattle are oftentimes adorned in jewelry and even parade in unison as lullabies are sung to them. Although it may only be a day trip, the Ethnographic Museum and the National Arts Museum are nearby and usually are a part of guided tours through Rwanda.
Address: Nyanza Rd, Rwanda
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4. Gorilla Guardians Village
A rural village just outside of Volcanoes National Park houses a community of reformed poachers, native people, and children. Gorilla Guardians Village allows visitors to experience local traditions and food while also interacting with people whose livelihood comes from their farms and small businesses. With a guide, travelers can learn about medicinal properties within the surrounding forests, witness the nearby mountain gorillas, and even teach classes in English or other languages at the local school. Visitors of this monument in Rwanda are asked to respect local customs, such as receiving gifts with both hands and participating in food preparation or late-night celebrations by the fire.
Address: Ruhengeri, Rwanda
5. National Arts Gallery
The National Arts Gallery of Rwanda is a unique blend of contemporary international and local artists. While sculptures are a prevalent medium in the museum, guided tours of it reveal that the site hosts a much wider range of art that visitors can see from the grounds outside. Originally built in 1962 as a palace, it went unused after the monarch it was meant for suddenly passed away. As of 2006, the National Arts Gallery works to showcase the history of Rwanda through art, some of which are interactive for visitors. Not only does this historical building in Rwanda offer guided tours through the complex, but the ticket that gets visitors into it also gives them 30% off the admission price of the nearby King’s Palace Museum.
Address: Nyanza, Rwanda
6. Pfunda Tea Estate
Given the fact that Rwanda is well-known for the quality of tea that it produces, it is no surprise that the Pfunda Tea Estate exists. The rich soil and temperature conditions that land at the foot of the Virunga Volcano has are ideal conditions for growing, harvesting, and processing tea. During its peak production period, the facility can produce 90 tons of tea, nearly all of which are shipped to Kenya for international sales. The sheer acreage of the property is enough to draw visitors to this iconic monument in Rwanda, not to mention the guided tours that detail all aspects of tea production, from seed to cup.
Travelers are encouraged to interact with the farmers that work the plots, as they are often proud of their work and are happy to explain how it comes together. However, travelers should realize that many Pfunda Tea Estate farmers do not speak English, and asking a tour guide to act as a translator is highly advisable.
Address: Ruhengeri-Gisenyi Rd, Rubavu, Rwanda
7. Musanze Caves
In the foothills of the five volcanoes that make up, Volcanoes National Park is the 2-kilometer, underground tunnels known as the Musanze Caves. Given their location in the dense vegetation of central Musanze, the caves are an ideal addition or day-trip to guided tours of Volcanoes National Park. After visitors finish tracking mountain gorillas or spotting golden monkeys, they can hike or kayak their way to this ancient site in Rwanda. While the animals that travelers spot on the shore may be relaxing, those who do not enjoy the idea of venturing underground with a flashlight and a tour group will not be.
Address: Ruhengeri, Rwanda
8. Akagera National Park
On the border of Rwanda and Tanzania lies Akagera National Park. Its namesake is derived from the Kagera River that drives through it, leaving many marshes, savannahs, and swamps that host the vast biodiversity it is so well-known for. While the national park has undergone significant changes in the last 20 years to promote conservation efforts, travelers are still allowed to visit in small groups with a tour guide. Tour guides of this natural monument in Rwanda work at the park and have both experience and knowledge of where the best areas to see wildlife are. Game drives during the day (and at night!) may be arranged with guided tours that include transportation and protection.
Visitors to the park are thereby able to come up close and personal with the likes of giraffes, lions, and panthers, without disturbing the natural existence of the animals they are viewing.
Address: Akagera, Kayonza, Rwanda
9. Ndaba Rock
About a 2-hour drive from Kigali, located in Karongi District, Rwanda’s capital city, Ndaba Rock is one of the country’s most-frequented tourist sites. A lot of mythical stories surround this rock. The locals believe that the rock used to have springs of honey, which attracted people from the surrounding forest. If you visited this ancient monument in Rwanda, the locals would tell you the story of a greedy hunter called “Ndaba” who perished at the bottom of the rock, after consuming too much honey and being unable to pull himself out of the rock. Ndaba Rock also features a wonderful waterfall.
Address: Ndaba Rock, Rwanda
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10. Hotel des Mille Collines
The Hotel des Mille Collines stands for resistance and hope for Rwandans and travelers alike. After the European owners were evacuated, hotel employee Paul Rusesabagina stayed behind to protect refugees that looked for shelter at the hotel that’s why this hotel is now known as a beautiful monument in Rwanda. Not only did he put his own life at risk to do so, but also his family’s, until the group was rescued by the United Nations. The hotel continues to run today, as its central location in Kigali is ideal for travelers looking to explore the city or nearby national parks.
Guided tours of the popular hiking, kayaking, or bird watching sites often begin with transportation from travelers’ hotels, making Hotel des Mille Collines an ideal place to stay when in Rwanda.
Address: 2 KN 6 Ave, Kigali, Rwanda
11. Nyamata Genocide Museum
About 30 kilometers south of Kigali around the former Nyamata church, the Nyamata Genocide Memorial Center is located where at least 10,000 people were murdered during the 1994 genocide. This historical site in Rwanda is also a burial site of 50,000 people who killed at that time. Holes drilled through the wall by perpetrators and bullet holes on the roof are still visible.
Address: Kinazi, Rwanda
12. Bisesero Genocide Memorial Center
Located near Karongi-Kibuye village in Western Rwanda, Bisesero Genocide Memorial Center was set up to commemorate the 50,000 people who died at the site during the genocide. This unique monument is on a hill at the small settlement of Bisesero, which is about 60 kilometers by road from Kibuye. Established around the country to commemorate victims of the deadly Rwandan genocide, Bisesero Genocide Memorial Center is one of the six historical memorial sites in Rwanda.
Address: Bisesero, Rwanda
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