about kigaliFounded by the Germans in 1907, Rwanda's attractive capital, Kigali, ranges over several hills, with the city centre on one and the government and administrative quarter on another. When Ruanda-Urundi (the capital of which was Usumbara, now Bujumbura) split into Rwanda and Burundi at the time of independence in1962, the strongest contender to become Rwanda's new capital seemed to be Butare, which had been used by the Belgians as Rwanda's administrative capital during colonization.
However, Kigali's central position and good road links to the rest of the country won out. The centre of Kigali, which is bustling and colourful, is neat, efficient and safe. Peaceful, tree-lined streets stretch outwards and generally downwards from the city's heart, while the government and administrative districts are located on a neighbouring hill in an area known as Kacyiru.
What to do and see in Kigali
The Office Rwandais du Tourisme et des Parcs Nationaux ORTPN) is the Rwandan Tourist Office (there are offices at the airport and at No 1 Boulevard de la Revolution in down town Kigali). As well as offering guided tours and extensive information on the Kigali and Rwanda as a whole, this is the place to buy permits to visit the national parks and the gorillas.
The Kigali Memorial Center contains a permanent exhibition of the Rwandan genocide. The center is built on a site where over 250,000 people are buried.
The genocide memorials
There are two memorials to the south of Kigali, both accessible as a daytrip. The church at Nyamata, about 30km from Kigli, and Natrama church, which is about 5km from Nyamata.
Parliament Building and the Geological Museum
Caplaki Handicrafts Cooperation, a selection of market stalls where you can shop for woodcarvings, drums, baskets and ceramics.
The Dancing Pots, a showroom and cultural centre for the Twa or Batwa (pygmy) people of Rwanda where they make and sell attractive pots and also offer dance displays.
The Kigali city tour
The tourist board offers guided bus tours of Kigali. Major sights include
Historic house of Richard Kandt, who came to Africa in 1898 seeking the source of the Nile and was the first and only Kaiserliche Resident during German colonization. Nyamirambo, the oldest quarter of Kigali, called ‘the city that never sleeps' and the new modern residential quarter of Yarutarama.