Situated in the South East, 25 kms outside of Masvingo (Formerly Fort Victoria)
Great Zimbabwe is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an ancient city in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo It was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country’s Late Iron Age. Construction on the monument began in the 11th century and continued until the 15th century. The exact identity of the Great Zimbabwe builders is at present unknown, and various hypotheses have been proposed as to who these masons may have been.
Local traditions recorded in the 18th and 19th centuries assert that the stoneworks were constructed by the early Lemba, however, the most popular modern archaeological theory is that the edifices were erected by the ancestral Shona. The stone city spans an area of 722 hectares (1,780 acres) which, at its peak, could have housed up to 18,000 people.
Great Zimbabwe is believed to have served as a royal palace for the local monarch. As such, it would have been used as the seat of political power. Among the edifice’s most prominent features were its walls, some of which were over five metres high. They were constructed of dry stone with no mortar being used. Eventually, the city was abandoned and fell into ruin.
The earliest known written mention of the Great Zimbabwe ruins was in 1531 by Vicente Pegado, captain of the Portuguese garrison of Sofala who recorded it as Symbaoe.
The first European visit may have been made by the Portuguese traveller António Fernandes in 1513-1515, who crossed twice and reported in detail the region of present-day Zimbabwe (including the Shona kingdoms) and also fortified centres in stone without mortar. However, passing en route a few kilometres north and about 56 km (35 mi) south of the site, he did not make a reference to the Great Zimbabwe riddle.
The first confirmed visits by Europeans were in the late 19th century, with investigations of the site starting in 1871. Later, studies of the monument were controversial in the archaeological world.
Great Zimbabwe has since been adopted as a national monument by the Zimbabwean government, and the modern independent state was named after it.
The word great distinguishes the site from the many hundreds of small ruins, now known as “zimbabwes”, spread across the Zimbabwe Highveld.
“Great Zimbabwe was well worth a visit. We did the four hour tour which was quite tiring but very interesting. The site is very well preserved and the guide we had was very interesting.”
“A pretty amazing visit. We stayed locally and it was a short trip to the ruins. We did a two hour tour and our guide made it very interesting. The background information gives life and perspective to the ruins. Well worth a visit and very impressive”
“”A fascinating place well worth a visit. You need to do a tour to get real insight to the ruins and the history of the country. Amazing. Well worth the trip”