The Ancient City of Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city in the lowveld of the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe, 22km from the town of Masvingo. This stone kingdom became such an important part of the national identity, that Zimbabwe (“Big House of Stone”) itself was named for this ancient city.
Great Zimbabwe is the largest pre-colonial structure found in sub-Saharan Africa, and as it bears such a unique testament to the lost civilization of the Shona people, it was given status as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986.
This non-functional sacred archaeological site (still used by contemporary communities for spiritual reasons), is divided into three distinct areas; The Hill Ruins, The Great Enclosure and the Valley Ruins.
Walls extend between rocky outcrops and massive rocks forming a maze of narrow passageways and enclosures which pay hommage to the way of life experienced by those who called it home when it was a trading powerhouse for communities across the globe.
There are identifiable areas where royalty (or the elite) and the common people lived, with the former being closer to the centre and the latter being scattered further afield within the Valley and Hill Ruins.
Enclosures are formed from rough granite rubble-stone blocks; a series of steatite (soapstone) posts stand erect in an area which is thought to have served ritual purposes; a chain of living quarters lead to a high conical tower; and there is an impressive display of chevron and chequered wall decorations.
Together, these combine to create an imposing and distinguished monument which is irreplaceable.