Places to Visit in Rwanda
The Kigali Genocide Memorial Center: Before going out of the capital and to Rwanda’s famous national parks, you will probably want to visit the Genocide Memorial Center in the capital Kigali. The Museum holds the remains of about 250,000 people who were brutally murdered by the Interahamwe (Hutu extremists). The center is divided into three sections – one for children killed during the genocide, another for adults and the final section dedicated to learning about genocides which occurred in different parts of the world.
While at the site, you will learn a lot about what transpired before, during and after the 1994 genocide. You can watch short videos about the tragic event or listen to what the resident Guides have to say. The experience can be emotional but the main purpose of the displays is to teach people (especially the young generation) about the horrors of genocides so that it never happens anywhere else again.
State House Museum: The State House Museum is the former presidential palace. The last president to occupy it was Habyarimana. Habyarimana’s plane crashed in the palace compound after being shot at. The shooting down of the presidential plan is what sparked off a genocide that was already in plan. The palace is now a museum where visitors can go to learn about the events leading up to the genocide and kind of life lived by president Habyarimana. The plane wreckage can still be seen in the compound.
The National Museum of Rwanda: Now known as the Ethnographic Museum, the site was built in 1989 and is found in Butare, A town found 80 kilometers away from the capital Kigali. It is a favorite stop for tourists visiting Nyungwe Forest National Park. The Museum offers opportunities to learn about the culture of the Banyarwanda. The museum’s 7 galleries showcase photos, cultural tools and ancient artifacts (pottery, instruments, traditional regalia and woodwork) dating over 500 years. After checking out what is in the gallery, you can watch Intore dancers entertaining guests.
Nyamata Church: if you want to learn more about what transpired before, during and after the genocide in Rwanda, you must visit this church. About 10,000 Tutsi’s sought shelter in the church hoping that they would be safe but where all killed by the merciless Interahamwe. The Hutu extremists used grenades to open the church doors and killed all who were inside. Visitors to the site can still see human bones, bloodstained clothes and bullet holes in the church. About 50,000 people were buried in a mass grave outside the church.
Nyamirambo Women’s Center: This non-profit center is found in Nyamirambo district (part of Kigali). It was founded to train women so that they can create their own jobs or become gainfully employed. The women at the center are taught how to create quality clothing using local fabrics. The women also produce home decoration items, beautiful beads and other souvenirs. The Nyamirambo Women’s Center also organizes walking tours around the neighborhood for tourists who want to learn more about the kind of life lived by the local people. When you visit this center, ensure that you purchase something to support the women.
Kimironko Market: A quick way to understand the kind of life lived by people in a new place is by visiting their main central market. Kimironko market is where everyone goes to for cheap fresh fruits, vegetables and food. There are all kinds of things on sale. Shoppers simply visit the different stalls and get what they want. An extension of the market specializes in quality second hand clothes, shoes, handbags and suits. If you are wondering where to get good local fabrics or Kitenge at a good price, then Kimironko is the place to go to.
Milk Bars: The Banyarwanda have a long history of raising cattle. Their long-horned cattle are similar to the one seen in Ankole (Uganda). Drinking fresh milk for breakfast is very popular in Rwanda and some even suggest that it is the reason why Rwanda has so many beautiful women. There are milk bars in every part of the country. The milk is got from cow farms in city suburbs and the countryside. Kigali Milk Bar is excellent for those who want to enjoy the milk fresh or hot.