Previously known as the Zimbabwe Ruins and not far along from Birchenough bridge, only 350kms from Harare, lies a great stone structure called Great Zimbabwe. This for many years caused controversy and raised questions about who built it. Great Zimbabwe acted as a royal palace for the Zimbabwean monarch and would have been used as the seat of their political power.

The monument first began to be constructed in the 11th century and continued to be built over the next 300 years, spanning an area of 722 hectares (1,780 acres) which, at its peak, could have housed up to 18,000 people. One of its most prominent features were its walls, some of which were over five meters high and which were constructed without mortar. Eventually the city was largely abandoned and fell into ruin.

Great Zimbabwe has since been adopted as a national monument by the Zimbabwean government, with the modern state being named after it. The word “Great” distinguishes the site from the many hundreds of small ruins, known as Zimbabwes, spread across the Zimbabwe Highveld. The most important artifacts recovered from the Monument are the eight Zimbabwe Birds. These were carved from a micaceous schist (soapstone) on the tops of monoliths, the height of a person – the Zimbabwe Flag pays tribute to these.

Great Zimbabwe is a great attraction for those keen to experience some of Zimbabwe’s history!

Why We like it

It is of great historical importance and is from where the country takes it’s name. It’s a interesting night stop for clients driving between the Eastern Highlands and Bulawayo. Lake Mtirikwi is nearby. Although a little “unkempt” there is a natural beauty and mystery to the area. There is also a very good museum on the grounds.

Accommodation suggestions for Great Zimbabwe

Norma Jeane’s Lakeside Lodge, Lodge at The Ancient City

Self drive, Escorted Tour options

How to get there There are no air connections to Great Zimbabwe and the best way to visit is to either drive from Harare or the eastern highlands or Bulawayo. For those not wanting to drive themselves, some safari companies offer organized overland tours that include this magnificent structure. We highly recommend Norma Jeane’s Lake view resort and the Lodge of the Ancient City.


Experience some of Zimbabwe’s history.