Kampala City Attractions, What to See in Kampala
Kampala City Attractions
Kampala is the capital and largest city of Uganda. For the tourist on a Uganda safari, Kampala makes a good introduction as there are unique aspects about Uganda that can be explored during your Kampala city tours. The City of Kampala covers a total area of about 189 km2 comprising 176 km2 of land and 13 square kilometres of water. Kampala is a hilly place with its valleys filled with sluggish rivers/ swamps. The highest point in the city proper is the summit of Kololo hill at 1,311 m located in the centre of the city and the lowest point at the shores of Lake Victoria south of the city centre at an altitude of 1,135 m. The city proper was estimated to have a population of 1,680,800 people on 31st July 2019 and is divided into the five boroughs of Kampala Central Division, Kawempe Division, Makindye Division, Nakawa Division, and Rubaga Division.
History of Kampala
While on your city tour in Kampala, you will discover the rich and colourful history of this city. The origins of Kampala can be traced to the year 1885. From that period, Uganda’s capital city has witnessed extraordinary changes, from the seat of one of Africa’s most ancient kingdoms to a long period of British colonialism, turbulent post-independence years and the current ambitions of becoming a world-class ‘modern’ city.
This area of numerous hills and swamps that later become known as Kampala as part of the core of the highly centralized Buganda Kingdom. It was also the site of the shifting Kibuga (capital) of the different Bassekabaka (deceased Kings) of the Buganda Kingdom with each Kabaka (King) upon coronation or subsequently during their reign setting up their Kibuga (capital) on a new and or different hill as they wished or desired. For example, Kasubi Hill served as the Capital of Kabaka Ssuuna II. In 1862 when explorer John Speke arrived in Buganda the Kibuga (capital) was at Bandabarogo, present-day Banda Hill, and the reigning Kabaka (King) was Mutesa I. Mengo hill was the capital (Kibuga) of Kabaka Mwanga II.
The area which is today called Kampala got its name during the period of European colonialism in Africa. In 1890, Fredric Lugard, a British colonial agent arrived in Uganda to help the British gain control of the Nile and established a Fort on a hill near Mengo which was the capital of Buganda. Before the British construction and occupation of FortLugard, the hill was a hunting reserve of the Kabaka (King) of Buganda and had several species of antelope, especially the impalas, a type of Africa antelope today found in Uganda’s Lake Mburo National park.
Lugard, the British colonial agent was allocated this hill by the then Kabaka of Buganda (Mwanga II). Because of the large population of Impalas that existed on the hill, the British referred to it as “The hill of Impalas”. The Baganda in whose territory this British settlement was located, then translated the “Hill of the Impalas” as Akasozi Ke ‘Empala. After some time, the name was shortened to K’empala. Through repeated usage, the name of the place eventually became Kampala and then came to apply to the entire city. With “kasozi” meaning “hill”, “ke” meaning “of”, and “empala” the plural of “impala”. Today this hill is known as old Kampala and it is one of the seven original hills of the Kampala city.
Eventually, the British colonial centre moved from Old Kampala to Nakasero Hill, while the Asian community took over Old Kampala, where many of their buildings can still be seen today. Some Asian businessmen also followed the market provided by colonial administrators and settled in the foothills of Nakasero, initiating the Kampala Central Business District. Meanwhile, the religious orders that also shaped the county’s history took over Kampala’s other historical hills including Lubaga for the Catholics, Namirembe for the Protestants and Kibuli for the Muslims.
Typical of the racial divide that characterized colonial cities, the African majority was relegated to distant suburbs except in the Mengo municipality. With independence, however, this racially inspired organization of Kampala’s space gradually broke down, while monumental buildings, such as the National Parliament, heralded the arrival of the new country. The long enmity between the Buganda Kingdom and Uganda as a nation found its most violent expression in 1966 when the Government invaded the King’s palace and disbanded the institution, only re-instated in 1993. The period of instability that ensued especially in the Amin years left Kampala a derelict city, from which it is still recovering.
This process of recovery has acquired new momentum since the late 1980s. Kampala’s population has since risen from 350,000 at independence to about 1,680,800 people today. With this rapid growth has come the proliferation of slums, of modern buildings in the city centre and the destruction of much of its historic buildings. By taking an interest in Kampala’s built heritage while on your Uganda tour, you help to conserve it for future generations. Kampala was originally built on seven hills, but it has expanded to cover more than the original seven hills. The original seven hills are:
Old Kampala Hill
There are a number of attractions that can be explored at Old Kampala hill during Uganda tours in Kampala. Old Kampala locally translates in Luganda as “Kampala Mukadde” is the original Kampala and it is also known as the Kampala hill. This hill actually marked the beginning of the present-day Kampala city. It is a place of Uganda history that dates back to the colonial rule. When the city expanded to other neighbouring hills, the place began to be referred to as Old Kampala a name that is still in use today, 120 years later. Old Kampala stands 4000 above feet above sea level is a mixture of residential and commercial area with several bars, cafes, and shops. The buildings are mostly of Indian styles. Though now renovated, the architecture has been maintained to preserve their place in the country’s history.
Points of interest on old Kampala hill
- Fort Lugard on old Kampala hill
The Fort Lugard on Old Kampala Hill is directly overlooking the Kampala City Center. Fort Lugard is of national importance and signifies the country’s colonial-era under the rule of Captain Lugard as the first Governor of the Protectorate. It is the first seat of British colonialists in Uganda. Frederick Lugard was a British soldier who arrived in Uganda in the 1890s and built his fort on top of the Kampala hill. The original fort was relocated to a different site on the hill in 2003, to accommodate the Uganda National Mosque.
- Uganda National Mosque on old Kampala hill
One of the old Kampala’s premier sights that can be visited by travellers during their safaris in Uganda, is the prominent National Mosque which is widely known as the Gadaffi Mosque. The Mosque was begun by Idi Amin in 1972 but only completed in 2007 with a donation from Colonel Gadaffi. It was officially inaugurated by Cornel Mwama Gadafi in 2008. The mosque can accommodate 35,000 worshipers. This Colorful structure with its magnificent features of Art was built and designed based on a mixture of Cultures of Arab, European, and African Touch. Built on Old Kampala Hill, it can also be viewed from all Corners of Kampala and one cannot go without a glimpse of it.
This majestic work of art also houses the Headquarters of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council which is the National Faith-Based Umbrella Organization for all Muslims, their Organizations and Institutions in Uganda with a Core responsibility to reach out to all People at all levels.
- St Matiya Mulumba site on old Kampala hill
Visitors who are interested in religious tours in Uganda, St Matia Mulamba site is one of the best. This is the site where St. Matiya Mulumba one of the Uganda Martyrs was murdered on 30 May 1886 on orders of Kabaka Mwanga II of Buganda. A church was built on the actual site of the martyrdom of St. Mathias Mulumba, the oldest of the Uganda Martyrs. He was about 50 years of age at the time of his martyrdom and served in an official Kingdom position at the time of his arrest. He was still a relatively newly baptized Catholic at the time he was asked to bear supreme witness to Christ. In order to be baptized he had to separate from most of his multiple wives (whom he continued to support materially), choosing only one to be his Christian wife, and so is also a great witness to the sanctity of Christian marriage. He was killed ahead of and in a different place than the other Ugandan martyrs when he failed to endure the distance to Namugongo after being tortured, and hacked by machetes and left to die, enduring an agony that lasted for several days.
- Old Kampala Police Station on old Kampala hill
This is the only surviving of the first three police stations erected during the early years of the colonial period in 1929. The lower storey is the first Commander’s residence and the mango tree he planted remain, as well as another mango tree planted by Kabaka Muteesa II upon his return from exile in 1955.
Mengo Hill Kampala
Mengo Hill is located approximately 2.5 kilometres south of the central business district of Kampala. The peak of the hill is at 1,210 meters above sea level. Mengo Hill has played an important role in Ugandan political and religious history. Mengo Hill was the then Kibuga (capital) of the Buganda kingdom at the start of British colonial rule. While on your Uganda cultural safari or historical tours in Kampala you must pay a visit to Mengo.
“Mengo’ means grinding stones in Luganda local language. Mengo Hill was originally known as Nkaawo hill. Nkaawo was a place where members of the Nvubu clan (hippopotamus clan) used to keep their grinding stones (Emmengo). These grinding stones were used in grinding herbal medicine. During that time, Kabaka (King) Mwanga had his palace at Masaja hill but he admired Nkaawo hill which prompted him to shift his palace. He established his palace at Nkaawo hill before shifting the grinding stones to another place. After the palace was completed, it caught fire. He was later advised to cooperate with the members of the Nvubu clan to shift the Emmengo to Mbazi in Kyaggwe county. When he did that, he peacefully settled at Nkaawo. It`s from these grinding stones (Emmengo) that the hill became Mengo hill.
Point of interest on Mengo hill
- Mengo Palace on Mengo hill
Mengo palace also derived its name from the grinding stones (Emmengo) that were kept on the hill. When the hill became Mengo hill, the palace was named Mengo palace. The Palace was originally constructed by Kabaka (king) Mwanga II in I885. This magnificent piece of architectural art is the official residence of the reigning king of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II and it worth a visit during your Uganda safari holiday.
The current Mengo palace was built in 1922 by Kabaka Mutesa II. Though it has remained empty since 1966 when Prime Minister Milton Obote ordered a dramatic attack to oust Kabaka Mutesa II, then president of Uganda. Led by the forces of Idi Amin, soldiers stormed the palace and, after several days of fighting, Mutesa was forced into exile. The building’s interior cannot be visited, but the notorious underground prison here is open to tours.
After the coup against Mutesa II, the palace building was converted to army barracks, while an adjacent site became a prison and torture-execution chamber built by Idi Amin in the 1970s. A year later in April, President Museveni resolved to return the traditional sites taken by the government in 1966 and 1967 back to the respective cultural authorities. And one month later Museveni and the council agreed to have traditional leaders crowned. Consequently, enthusiastic Baganda crowned Prince Ronald Muwenda Mutebi in a ceremony attended by Museveni at Naggalabi in Buddo. This marked the return of the Buganda kingdom to Uganda.
- The Buganda royal mile on Mengo hill
The Buganda royal mile is also known as Kabakaanjagala Road. The royal mile lies at the heart of Mengo, the Kibuga(city) of Buganda. It connects the king’s palace (Lubiri) to the parliament (Bulange). Midway is the Nantawetwa roundabout, through which only the Kabaka is allowed to pass. The phrase, ‘Kabaka Anjagala’ (the King loves/needs me) was commonly used by the king’s subjects when visiting the palace, or when given a candlenut tree locally Known as Kabakaanjagala, when they go back to their home, they would say “Kabaka ajagala yampadde no omuti” which translates “the king loves me, he even gave me a tree”.
- Kabaka’s Lake on Mengo hill
Kabaka’s lake locally known as a Kayanja ka Kabaka is one of the top tourist attractions in Kampala that visitors on a cultural tour in Uganda should visit. Possibly the largest hand-dug lake in Africa, excavated at a great human cost, after Kabaka Mwanga II’s command, as part of an escape route from Mengo Palace to Lake Victoria. The process of digging this lake was begun in 1885 by the King’s pages or savants. All the 52 clans (ebika) of Buganda were mobilized to take part in this exercise and encouraged them to dig the lake to the depth and width. The lake occupies 2km and is about 20 feet deep on average. Kabaka’s Lake has no visible tributary but it is fed by underground springs.
- Idi Amin’s torture execution chambers.
Within the Mengo Palace grounds, constructed as an arsenal, then used in the 1970s in President Amin’s regime as torture chambers, from which no one came out alive. An estimated 20,000 people were killed in the torture chambers which comprised of five small cells. Thousands of people were packed into the small cells until there was barely any turning space. The only escape route that they could use was full of electrified water. They were then starved and many were frustrated and dumped themselves into the electrified water to die. For those who didn’t, they were brutally beaten by the soldiers.
During your Uganda tour to this site, guides will lead you to this terrifying sight, a dark concrete tunnel with numerous dark, damp cells, which were separated by an electrified passage of water. You’ll see some original charcoal messages written by former prisoners on the walls: one reads ‘Obote, you have killed me, but what about my children!’ On the grounds are also the scrap-metal remains of Mutesa’s Rolls Royce destroyed by Idi Amin.
Lubaga Hill in Kampala
Lubaga hill is also another interesting site that can be explored during your city tours of Kampala. Lubaga is bordered by Mengo to the east, Namirembe to the northeast, Kasubi to the north, Lubya to the northwest, Lungujja and Busega to the west, Nateete to the southwest Mutundwe to the south and Ndeeba to the southeast. The distance, by road, from the central business district of Kampala to Lubaga is approximately 3 kilometres.
The Lubaga hill derives its name from the Luganda word okubaga, a process of “planning” or “making a structure stronger” while constructing it. For example; okubaga ekisenge means to strengthen the internal structure of a wall while building a house. The place was named Lubaga because it is a place where Buganda’s general used to plan military expeditions.
History of Lubaga
According to history, this hill served as the location of one of the palaces of the King of Buganda from the 18th century. Kabaka Ndawula Nsobya, the 19th Kabaka of Buganda, who ruled from 1724 until 1734, maintained his capital on Lubaga Hill. However, during the late 19th century, during the reign of Muteesa I Mukaabya Walugembe Kayiira, who reigned from 1856 until 1884, the palace caught fire and was abandoned.
When the Catholic White Fathers (Father Pierre Lourdel Monpel and Brother Amans) came looking for converts in 1879, settled near the hill. As the Catholic Church took root in the country, the missionaries were allocated land on Lubaga Hill. The construction of St. Mary’s Cathedral on Lubaga Hill took place between 1914 and 1925, with the assistance of monetary contributions from Roman Catholic congregations abroad.
However, the early missionaries had problems pronouncing the word Lubaga, as it is correctly spelt. They instead pronounced it with an “r” as in Rubaga. In Luganda, there is no word that starts with an “R” or “X” or “Q”. Other Bantu languages from western Uganda and the African Great Lakes Area, however, do have words starting with “R”.
Points on interest on Lubaga hill in Kampala
- Mary’s Cathedral on Lubaga hill
This towering house of God stands on top of Lubaga hill. Visible from all angles, especially in downtown Kampala, St Mary’s and Sacred Heart Cathedral Rubaga, is indeed a city landmark hardly missed by visitors on a city tour in Kampala.
Constructed by the White Fathers, the Cathedral sits on the hill given to the Catholic Church following the 1888 religious wars. The Romanesque cathedral contains the remains of Archbishop Kiwanuka, Uganda’s first native archbishop. Images the 22 catholic martyrs are displayed in the stained glass windows. Today, Lubaga remains the seat of the headquarters of the Catholic Church in Uganda. It is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kampala.
Namirembe Hill in Kampala
Namirembe is located approximately one mile south of Kampala city centre. The hill rises 1,260 meters above sea level. It is adjacent to Mengo Hill. The history of the two hills is intertwined, geographically, politically, and religiously. Namirembe is also a common name given to girls in several Baganda clans. Namirembe comes from the Luganda word “Mirembe” meaning “peace”. Namirembe loosely translates into “Full of Peace”. Legend has it that this hill was a gathering place for celebrating peace or war victories in Buganda. This hill has several attractions that can be explored during your Kampala city tour.
Points of interest on Namirembe Hill
- St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe on Namirembe Hill
As you tour Uganda you can pay a visit to Namirembe hill which is the seat of the Anglican Church in Uganda. Uganda is a spiritually rich country. Henry Stanley, British explorer, and journalist met King Mutesa, the Kabaka (king) of Buganda (a central Ugandan tribe) in April 1875. After sharing the simple story of Christianity with King Mutesa, he became very enthusiastic about Christianity and asked Stanley to write a letter to Queen Victoria of England, appealing for missionaries. The letter was published in The Daily Telegraph newspaper in England on 15th November 1875.
So, two years later, Christianity first came to Uganda when eight missionaries from the Church Missionary Society arrived in 1877. The Christian faith was originally preached only to the immediate members of the court of King Mutesa, Kabaka (king) of Buganda.
King Mutesa’s successor, King Mwanga, “became increasingly angry as he realized that the first converts put loyalty to Christ above the traditional loyalty to the king. Martyrdoms began in 1885. Mwanga first forbade anyone to go near a Christian mission on pain of death, but finding himself unable to cool the ardour of the converts, resolved to wipe out Christianity.”
Among the early martyrs of Uganda was English Bishop, James Hannington, the first Anglican Bishop of the Eastern Equatorial province. Bishop Hannington approached the Buganda Kingdom from the East. Unfortunately, unknown to him, there was a Baganda believe that its enemies would approach the kingdom from the eastern route. So, the Kabaka (king) sent warriors to meet this encroaching enemy. Before they killed Hannington on 29th October 1885, he is reported to have said, “Tell the Kabaka (king) that I die for Uganda.” These words are inscribed on his tomb at the Namirembe Cathedral.
The cathedral was built in 1890 with its neo-gothic and byzantine features, it was constructed with clay bricks and roof tiles. Bishop Hannington (murdered on Kabala Mwanga’s order), Albert Cook and his wife and Lady Sarah Nalule, Kabaka Mutebi’s mother are buried in the graveyard of Namirembe Cathedral.
- Bulange Royal Building on Namirembe Hill
Bulange Royal Building is also known as the Buganda parliamentary building. It is the traditional seat of the Buganda Parliament (translates as Lukiiko in Luganda). The Bulange royal building took the name Bulange from Bulange hill due to the weaving grass that used to grow on that hill. Bulange was built at a considerable cost of £5 million and inspired by the Stormont building in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Many of the Kingdom’s clan totems can be seen displayed at the entrance. The building was occupied by the army from 1966 during the Mengo crisis, until 1993 when kingdoms were reinstated.
- Mengo Hospital on Namirembe Hill
The 300-bed Mengo Hospital is a community hospital affiliated with the Church of Uganda. It is also known as Namirembe Hospital. Mengo Hospital is the oldest hospital in East Africa. It was established by Albert Ruskin Cook in 1897, a British born medical missionary in Uganda. Sir Albert Cook was unusual among medical missionaries because of his efforts to train Africans to become skilled medical workers. He and his wife opened a school for midwives at Mengo and authored a manual of midwifery in Ganda, the local language (Amagezi Agokuzalisa; published by Sheldon Press, London). Albert Cook started training African Medical Assistants at Mulago during the First World War, and in the 1920s, encouraged the opening of a medical College that initially trained Africans to the level defined by the colonial government as “Asian sub-assistant surgeon”. The school grew to become a fully-fledged Medical School in his lifetime. Sir Albert Cook died on 23 April 1951 in Kampala and was buried at the cathedral.
Kibuli Hill in Kampala
Kibuli Hill is another place of fascinating history than can be visited during your Uganda trips in Kampala. The hill is bordered by Kololo to the north, Nakawa, and Mbuya to the northeast, Namuwongo to the east, Muyenga to the southeast, Kabalagala to the south, Nsambya to the southwest, the Queen’s Clock Tower to the east and Nakasero to the northeast. Kibuli is located approximately 6 kilometres southeast of Kampala’s central business district. It rises to a peak of 3,973 feet (1,211 m), above sea level. Prince Badru Kakungulu, a member of the Buganda Royal Family owned most of the hill before he donated it to the Ugandan Muslim community.
Points of Interest On Kibuli Hill
- Kibuli Mosque On Kibuli Hill
The mosque was built between 1941–1951. It is located on land donated by Prince Nuhu Mbogo, a prominent Ugandan Muslim at a spot where the first permanent mosque with its quibla (hence “Kibuli”) was built in 1894
The mosque’s history is closely linked to the history of Islam in the country. In 1844, Islam came to Uganda. Suuna II was Kabaka of the Buganda Kingdom from 1832 to 1856. He embraced Islam but there were some teachings that were at odds with Buganda practice and when his son, Mwanga II became Kabaka these were exacerbated. Over the course of the next generation, with the arrival of colonial powers, the role of Kabaka was split from the leadership of the Muslim community. Prince Nuhu Mbogo (meaning ‘buffalo’) was particularly strong so the British gave him the plot on the hill in Kibule thinking he would build his palace there. Instead, he built it in the valley and donated the land on the hill for a small mosque to be constructed. Later, Prince Mbogo’s son, Prince Badru Kakungulu donated a further 80 acres in order that additional institutions could be built.
Outside the mosque stands the mango tree under which the first meeting to plan the construction of the current mosque took place. Prince Aly Agha Khan laid the foundation stone in 1941 and opened it in 1951.
In 1941, the Aga Khan visited and wanted to assist in building a mosque on the site. The cost was to be 250,000 UGX and in order to help facilitate fundraising the Aga Khan offered a ‘shilling for a shilling’ fund matching program and as money was raised building began.
The mosque was completed in 1951 and opened for service that year. The current patron of the mosque is Prince Kassim Nakibinge Kakungulu, the grandson of Prince Mbogo. It has been visited by a number of dignitaries including the Presidents of Iran, Sudan, Zambia and Tanzania, the current and all previous Kabakas and Presidents of Uganda, the King of Saudi Arabia, and the Aga Khan.
Kibuli Mosque sits atop Kibuli Hill along with an associated nursery, primary and secondary schools, hospital and nursing school. It is easy to access from the centre by either car or public transport. See the map below.
When visiting make sure to bring your camera and climb the minaret which offers magnificent views of Kampala. Also, make sure to note the giant Mango tree directly in front of the mosque. It is far older than the mosque and was left as it is as a reference point to all historical pictures.
The mosque is open and welcomes visitors between times of prayer. The best times to visit are: 8 am-12 pm, 2-4 pm, and 5-7 pm.
Nsambya Hill in Kampala
Nsambya Hill is the site of the former Cathedral of St Peter’s Nsambya and allocated to the British Catholic Mill Hill Mission during the signing of the Uganda Agreement (1900). Nsambya is a hill in the centre of Kampala, the capital and largest city in Uganda. The name also refers to the upscale and middle-class neighbourhoods that have been developed on the hill and its slopes. Nsambya is located approximately 5 kilometres southeast of the central business district of Kampala, along the road to Ggaba, a suburb of the city.
Points of Interest On Nsambya Hill
- Nsambya Hospital On Nsambya Hill
St. Francis Hospital Nsambya is a faith-based not-for-profit hospital founded by the Little Sisters of St. Francis in 1903. Nsambya Hospital is owned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kampala. It is accredited by the Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau and is operated by the Little Sisters of St. Francis. It is a tertiary referral hospital with a capacity of 361 beds. It is involved in patient care, research, and teaching. It offers specialist services in surgery, internal medicine, paediatrics and obstetrics, and gynaecology. It serves as an “Internship Hospital” for graduates of any of Uganda’s four medical schools, where fresh medical graduates spend a year of internship, 3 months in each of the four specialities mentioned above under the supervision of specialists and consultants in those disciplines.
Nakasero Hill in Kampala
While on your Uganda vacation in Kampala, you can visit Nakasero, one of the magnificent hills of Kampala. Nakasero is bordered by Mulago to the north, Makerere to the northwest, Old Kampala to the west, Namirembe and Mengo to the southwest, Nsambya to the south, Kibuli to the southeast, and Kololo to the east. Nakasero Hill on whose summit was Fort Nakasero, a British military installation built after relocating from Fort Lugard in Old Kampala. The hill was also the site of the European Hospital (the current government analytical laboratory opposite the Ministry of Public Service headquarters).
Nakasero is important to Uganda’s economy and politics, as it is home to Kampala’s central business district and several government offices, including the Ugandan Parliament Buildings. The lower reaches of the western and southern slopes of the hill accommodate the ordinary business and commercial activities of the city (taxi parks, train station, shopping arcades, banks, and restaurants). Towards the top of the hill, there are government buildings including the Uganda Parliament Buildings, the Kampala Capital City Authority Building Complex, and several government ministries.
The top of Nakasero Hill is the most luxurious address in the city and accommodates the most upscale hotels and restaurants in the country. The Kampala State House is also located here. The northern and eastern slopes of Nakasero Hill house the majority of the diplomatic missions to Uganda and the residences of most ambassadors accredited to Uganda.
The numerous landmarks in Kampala’s central business district, located on Nakasero Hill, include, Uganda Parliament Buildings, State House, Kampala, Headquarters of Bank of Uganda, Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Uganda Commercial Court Building Complex, Uganda Government Analytical Chemistry Laboratory, Uganda High Court, Uganda Investment Authority, Uganda Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development, Uganda Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Uganda Ministry of Health, Uganda Ministry of Internal Affairs, Uganda Ministry of Tourism, wildlife and antiquities
Hotels include Grand Imperial Hotel, Fairway Hotel & Spa, Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala Hilton Hotel, Kampala Intercontinental Hotel, Kampala Serena Hotel, Kampala Sheraton Hotel, Kampala Speke Hotel
Foreign embassies include Embassy of Austria, Embassy of Belgium, Embassy of Cuba, Embassy of Denmark, Embassy of France, Embassy of Finland, Embassy of India, Embassy of Ireland, Embassy of Italy, Embassy of Kenya, Embassy of Nigeria, Embassy of Norway, Embassy of Somalia, Embassy of South Korea, Embassy of Spain, Embassy of Switzerland, Embassy of Tanzania
Points of interest on Nakasero Hill
- The independence monument on Nakasero Hill
The Independence Monument, standing majestically at a height of 6 meters, is a must-see if you are travelling to Kampala. The monument situated in the heart of the capital between the Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Grand Imperial Hotel, and Stan-Chart bank, is one of the most distinctive landmarks of Uganda. Uganda’s Independence
Monument was constructed by Gregory Magoba, one of Uganda’s first professional sculptors, this heralds the newly born country let free from bondage. It was unveiled on 5 October 1962 by Apollo Milton Obote, Uganda’s first Prime Minister after independence. The monument depicts a man unwrapping a child and raising the child to touch the sky. The sculpture signifies a newborn country let free from colonialism and bondages. Today with the beautification around the monument, you need to carry your camera for the memorable capture of the sight. This is among Kampala’s top Attractions and best sight when doing city walks.
- Uganda Parliamentary Building on Nakasero Hill
The Parliament building of the Ugandan government sits in the heart of Kampala and is built a few streets over from the main railway station. The building sits between Parliamentary Avenue, Said Barre Road, Nile Avenue, and Kimathi Avenue. The building consists of 350 rooms and construction was started in 1958. The building was designed by Peatfield and Bodgener a British Ugandan architecture firm. Peatfield and Bodgener is the largest architecture firm in Uganda and one of the oldest in the country.
The building has three wings, a North, South and East Wing. The North wing houses offices for the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, MPs and for Staff. It also houses the Parliamentary Library. The South Wing of the parliament houses the Clerk to the Parliament, senior staff and the Public Relations office. The East Wing houses the Chamber where votes are held and discussions about the new legislation.
The building has a total volume of 75,900 m3. There are 386 members of the parliament. The building was built when Uganda was still a protectorate of the British Empire. One of the few things the British government did to ready the country for independence. Once the country did finally become independent in 1962. To mark this occasion, the Independence Arc was added to the entrance of the Parliament building. The first stone was laid by the first Prime Minister of Uganda Dr. Apollo Milton Obote. The Arch covers the main entrance and pathway to the doors of the building.
The building is interesting for a number of reasons. The most striking among them is white colour. The building has 7 floors and has a strict pattern for the placement of the windows. The windows are long and thin and set up in a grid. The building has an orthogonal form both in plan and in silhouette. This strict grid of windows gives the building a very authoritative look, it follows the same ideas as Neo-classicistic buildings, of symmetry and rhythm in the facade. The building like all good modernist buildings is white and this gives it a sense of the divine. A spectacular wooden mural showing Uganda’s rich flora and fauna can be seen in the foyer.
- Nakasero Fort on Nakasero Hill
One of the few remaining symbols of the British military presence in Uganda, the colonial administrators occupied it in 1903 after moving from Fort Lugard at Old Kampala. The fort had two canons to defend the premises and the city in case of an attack. Part of the perimeter wall still stands, as well as the remnants of military quarters built in a defensive quadrangle.
- Bank of Uganda on Nakasero Hill
Construction of the Bank’s first permanent premises started in 1967, one year after Uganda first issued its own national currency. Designed by Peatfield and Bodgener the building’s striking design is accompanied by the monument in front, a mosaic-clad structure that symbolizes the new Bank’s authority over the nation’s wealth. The current governor is Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile.
- Uganda National Cultural Centre
Designed by Peatfield & Bodgener as the National Theatre and financed by subscription and public funds. The building, while meant to promote Ugandan expressive art with approaching independence, is designed as a Western theatre house. The theatre has nevertheless seen the involvement of internationally recognized Ugandan writers, including Robert Serumaga, Okot p’Bitek and Byron Kawadwa (murdered by Idi Amin)
- World War Memorial Monument
The World War Monument is reputed to be the oldest monument in Kampala. It was built in 1945 by the British colonial government. The monument standing at the Constitutional Square in Kampala near the fence of the Uganda High Court was built during the British era in memory of Uganda soldiers who died during the 1st and 2nd world wars. The 5ft monument is also depicted on the front side of the Uganda Shilling Five Thousand note (2010).
Other Prominent Hills in Kampala
Banda Hill in Kampala
Banda is a hill that lies in Nakawa Division, within Kampala. Banda also refers to the neighbourhoods on the slopes of the hill and between Banda Hill and Kireka, extending all the way to the Kampala-Jinja Highway. The southwestern slopes of the hill are occupied by the neighbourhood known as Kyambogo and are the location of the campus of Kyambogo University, one of the nine public universities in the country. Banda is bordered by Kiwaatule to the north, Kireka to the east, Kinnawattaka to the southeast, Mbuya to the south, Nakawa to the southwest, Ntinda to the west and northwest. The location of the hill is approximately 11 kilometres (6.8 mi), by road, east of Kampala’s central business district.
- History of Banda Hill
The full name of Banda is Bandabalogo. Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Kabaka Muteesa I, the 30th Kabaka of the Kingdom of Buganda, who reigned from 1856 until 1884, maintained a palace on the hill. It was at this palace that British explorer John Hanning Speke met Muteesa I in 1862. Muteesa detained Speke for some months before finally releasing him in his quest to look for the source of the Nile River.
At Banda, Muteesa faced many misfortunes, which he attributed to ill luck or witchcraft, thus the name Bandabalogo (“Wizards of Banda”). From the 1862 visit of John Speke to Kabaka Muteesa1 death in 1884 the Kibuga (capital)/palace relocated Five times as follows from Banda to Nakawa hill then onto Lubaga hill then briefly at Namirembe hill and finally to Kasubi hill were in 1884 Muteesa 1 died. Kasubi hill that was initially called Nabulagala but Kabaka Muteesa 1 renamed it Kasubi, after his mother’s village in Kyaggwe County, now known as Mukono District. Today, the great, great-grandson of Muteesa I, Muwenda Mutebi II of the reigning Buganda monarch, maintains a palace at the summit of this hill with the entrance facing west, as is the tradition.
Starting in 1958, the government of Uganda began establishing educational institutions on the southern and southwestern slopes of the hill, in the neighbourhood known as Kyambogo. The institutions were merged in 2001 to form Kyambogo University, the third public university established in the country.
Points of interests include;
Kyambogo University – One of the nine public universities in Uganda and The Banda Palace of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II
Kasubi Hill in Kampala
Kasubi hill is approximately 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi), by road, northwest of Kampala’s central business district. Kasubi hill was originally called Nabulagala. Before 1856, Kasubi Hill was known as Nabulagala. Sometime after that date, Muteesa I of Buganda, having met misfortune at Banda Hill, where he had built his first palace, relocated to Nabulagala. He renamed the hill Kasubi, after the ancestral village of his mother, located in then Kyaggwe County, what today is known as Mukono District. Today, Buganda traditionalists refer to the place interchangeably as Kasubi or Nabulagala or Kasubi-Nabulagala.
Point of interest on Kasubi Hill
- Kasubi Tombs
This is a traditional site in an urban setting 5kms to the south-west of Kampala city, the capital of Uganda. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, and originally Kabaka Muteesa I’s palace. The most significant landmark on Kasubi Hill is the Kasubi Royal Tombs is the official burial place of the Kings of Buganda. Four former Kings of Buganda were buried at Kasubi. Four of the last Kings (Bassekabaka) of the Kingdom of Buganda namely; Mutesa I (1865-1884), Daniel Mwanga II (1884-1897), Daudi Cwa II (1897-1939) and Frederick Mutesa II (1939-1966), were buried in this gigantic dome-shaped grass-thatched house known as Muzibu Azaala Mpanga. Bujjabukula, the gatehouse is where Muteesa I lived 1880-1882, awaiting completion of the main house. Ndoga Obukaba is the house containing the royal drums
Mulago Hill in Kampala
Mulago is a hill in north-central Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. The hill rises 4,134 feet (1,260 m) above sea level. Mulago is in Kawempe Division, one of the five administrative divisions of Kampala. It is approximately 4 kilometres (2.5 mi), by road, north of the city’s central business district. “Mulago was derived from the Ganda word ‘omulago’, a type of medicine, kept on this hill that was used by King Sunna II for protection against spirits.
Points of interest on Mulago Hill
- Mulago Hospital
Built-in 1917, Old Mulago Hospital merged with the New Mulago Hospital in 1960 to form a giant complex that is the national referral hospital. The complex also houses Makerere University Medical School.”
- Mulago neighbourhood
At the lower end of the hill about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the hospital complex, are the Uganda Museum and headquarters of the Uganda Wildlife Authority at Kamwokya. The British High Commission office and the High Commission office of Rwanda are both located in neighbouring Kamwokya.
Kololo Hill in Kampala
Kololo is a hill in Kampala, the largest city and capital of Uganda. The name also applies to the upscale residential and commercial neighbourhood that sits on that hill. Kololo is close to the centre of Kampala, bordered by Naguru to the east, Bukoto to the north, Mulago to the north-west, Makerere to the west, Nakasero to the south-west, and Kibuli to the south. Kololo is in the Kampala Central Division. Kololo Hill rises to a maximum height of 4,302 feet (1,311 m) above sea level.
Kololo gets its name from the 19th century Acholi Chief Awich. From Northern Uganda, he, along with Kabalega of Bunyoro resisted British rule. He was arrested and brought to Kampala and incarcerated on top of Kololo Hill. Awich is alleged to have cried out in Luo, “An atye kany kololo”, which means “I am here alone.” Awich was lamenting over the fact that he had been left alone in the wilderness, miles away from home. His captors and the Baganda started calling the location and the hill “Kololo”, resulting in its name today.
Since the 1950s, before Uganda’s Independence, Kololo has been an upscale residential area because of its central location in the city and to the views from the hill. Kololo is a popular location for diplomatic missions to Uganda, housing more than a dozen embassies and ambassadors’ residences.
During the 2000s, hotels, banks, hospitals, and other corporate entities began to infiltrate the hill, mainly to serve those who reside there, away from the noise and traffic congestion in the central business district located on the neighbouring Nakasero hill.
However, the introduction of business premises on Kololo Hill, especially restaurants and bars, has increased noise and has introduced heavy traffic that interferes with the serenity and ambience that was there before. Several irritated residents have jointly sued seven bars, accusing them of being the source of noise pollution. As of February 2019, the case was still winding through Uganda’s court system
The following points of interest are found on Kololo hill; Embassy of Algeria, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Embassy of Egypt, Embassy of Germany, Embassy of Sweden, Embassy of Norway, Embassy of Libya, Embassy of North Korea, Embassy of Russia, Embassy of Rwanda, Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Embassy of South Africa, High Commission of the Republic of Kenya, Kampala Golf Course, Kololo Airstrip
High Court building (1930)
The High Court building provides one of the last remaining examples of neo-classical early colonial architecture in Kampala. Clearly designed to impress those who would come close to the law, it has remained substantially intact since its construction
Makerere Hill in Kampala
Makerere is located in Kawempe Division. It is bordered by Bwaise to the north, Mulago to the east, Wandegeya, and Nakasero to the southeast, Old Kampala to the south, Naakulabye to the southwest. Kasubi and Kawaala lie to the west of Makerere. This location lies approximately 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi), by road, north of Kampala’s central business district.
Points of Interest On Makerere Hill
- Makerere University
Makerere Hill is occupied primarily by Makerere University. In the 1970s and 1980s, the university had nine Halls of Residence, six for men and three for women. During the 1990s and early 2000s, as the university intake and student population grew from about 5,000 to over 40,000, private hostels grew up all around the hill, outside the university compound, to accommodate the new student influx. The original halls of residence are:
Makerere Main Building (1939-1941) – OP. The administrative building for East Africa’s oldest university (established 1922). Constructed with funding from the Colonial Development Fund, the building was designed to partly resemble the Senate Building at the University of London, to which Makerere College was then affiliated
Old Mitchell Hall, Makerere University (1922) – OP. Among the first buildings at Makerere University, and originally known as Mitchell Hall (after Sir Phillip Mitchell, Governor of Uganda, 1935–1940). It housed the first residential facilities for male students, including Julius Nyerere who lived in the first room on the left of the entrance to Block CC.
Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts (1922) – OP. Named after the founder of the school. In 1940 Makerere College introduced Art among the subjects taught. Trowell is credited for pioneering art education in the region. The building also housed the collections of the Uganda Museum (1941- 1954).
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