Kigali : A City with Tragic History yet Intriguing Mix of Tradition and Culture

Kigali : A City with Tragic History yet Intriguing Mix of Tradition and Culture

Kigali is a sprawling capital of African country Rwanda, known for its vibrant landscapes and rich cultural history. The city transcends along hills, ridges and valleys making it a spectacular tourist destination. The civil war and dark history of the city makes it even more interesting with glimpses of history found at every corner. The city is known for its craft villages, handicrafts and intriguing tradition. Despite all the genocides and tumultuous political situation in the past, it has managed to become a strong and sustainable city. The bustling markets and aroma of spices decorates the city with pride with its new found confidence. Here are the top 9 places to visit in Kigali.

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Kigali : A City with Tragic History yet Intriguing Mix of Tradition and Culture

1. Kigali Genocide Memorial

The memorial was built in memory of all the victims of the mass genocide during the civil war against the Tutsi. It is the resting place for around 250,000 victims who lost their lives in 1994. It is one of the most tragic events in the history of the country and the world. The museum has information about the events that occurred before, during and after the mass genocide. The visitor center is open for tourists and students who wish to know more about the history and the tragic event.

2. Inema Arts Centre

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The Inema Arts Centre is a vibrant arts centre which helps artists to come together to display their work and explore the creativity. The venue and gallery has number of paintings, sculptures and other forms of arts on display. The centre shows contemporary and beautiful Rwandan art bring together all the best talents under the same roof. The arts center was founded by Emmanuel Nkuranga and Innocent Nkurunziza and currently has permanent pieces of beautiful art by 14 prominent and popular Rwandan artists. The center also provide space for creative activities, events, yoga, etc.

3. Presidential Palace Museum

The presidential palace museum is the former house of President Habyarimana and is located in the neighborhood of Kanombe. Currently it stands as a museum that displays the remains of the presidential plane and its remains are still visible on the ground. The plane crash during the civil war in Rwanda marks the beginning of the mass genocide that took lives of millions of people in Rwanda. The museum shows the history of plane crash in form of photographs along with the debris from the actual plane crash.

4. Nyamata Parish Catholic Church

The church has comprehensive information and is also a visceral center to educate about the series of genocide events that occurred in Rwanda. It is popular for providing refuge to around 10,000 Tutsi but who were later massacred by the Hutu extremists during the civil war. The church has witnessed one of the most tragic genocide of the country and buried nearly 50,000 victims during the war. It echoes the tragedies of the war represented with ceilings and walls hit by bullets along with presence blood-stained belongings of the victims.

5. Niyo Art Gallery

The Niyo Art Gallery is one of the fascinating art places that teach skills and arts to impoverished children with an aim to help them earn money and live a sustainable life. It was found by Niyonsenga Pacifique and has helped in improving lives of many street children. The art gallery has created many opportunities as the founder teaches the kids many skills like painting, artwork, dancing etc. This is an inspiring place to be to know how one man’s determination is helping in improving many lives around the city and country.

6. Kimironko Market

This is one of the most popular markets in Kigali in terms of variety of products and items found. It is the best and biggest market with range of sellers selling fruits, vegetables, food, fabrics, handicrafts, second hand clothes and many other important things. If you are planning to get some souvenirs from Kigali, make sure to stop by the market and pick up things. One of the most unique things available in this market is Agaseke baskets which are unique to only Rwanda. They are sold at cheaper price in the Kimironko market.

7. Kandt House Museum

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The Kandt House Museum in Kigali is the museum of natural history and is managed by the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda. The museum is dedicated to Richard Kandt which was his former home. The house was turned into a national museum in the year 2006 and it shows evolution of life, depicts the landscapes, geological aspects of Rwanda, national parks along with rich history of the beautiful flora and fauna. The museum shows exhibition of live reptiles and snakes along with showcasing the rich history and nature of the place.

8. Nyamirambo Women’s Center

The women’s center is located in the multi-cultural district of Kigali and is a non-profit organization that works for the upliftment and employment of women. It was started with the intention to provide the Rwandan women with education, skills and train with proper things that helps them find proper employment. The ladies are taught skills like stitching clothes, design accessories and home décor products along with traditional products. They also help with designing of souvenirs. The organization provides walking tours with help of local guide that takes one on a tour of Nyamirambo’s houses.

9. Islamic cultural center

The mosque is one of the most impressive and gorgeous mosques and is named after the road that was built by Muammar Gaddafi. The architecture is a mix of white façade that is intricately designed. The golden domes make the architecture even more aesthetically pleasing. It is also known by the locals as Islamic Cultural center and is located along the Nyamirambo neighborhood. The mosques also houses a school, community center and a clinic that gives a complete learning experience.


Kigali has a very tragic past with mass genocide of millions of people but still has grown to be a sustainable city. The tradition and the rich heritage of the city makes it intriguing and interesting making it a slightly offbeat destination.