A Kampala City Tour is the best way to take in all the sights of the capital city. The Kampala City Tour showcases religious, cultural, traditional a popular landmarks all with a unique story behind them. Listed below are the main attractions that you can visit and see in Kampala. Being a vibrant and bustling city which has its fair share or traffic, this means that you might not get to see all of the attractions below. Therefore, please let your guide know what you are interested in so that he can make sure you don’t miss out on seeing them.
Kampala is the capital city of Uganda and has a population of 1.5M according to the census taken 2014. Kampala only became the capital city in 1962 up until then Fort Lugard in Old Kampala Hill had been the colonial administrative headquarters. These were moved in 1905 to Entebbe and subsequently to Kampala.
Historically the area that Kampala occupies was designated as a hunting reserve for the Kabaka (king) of Buganda. The area was chosen due to its rolling hills, valleys, wetlands as well as the high concentration of antelope, specifically Impala. It was therefore not surprising that when the British arrived they called the area “hills of the Impala”.
“Ka’mpala” in Luganda means “that is of the Impala” and over time the single word of Kampala was adopted as the name of the place that was originally the Kabaka’s hunting ground. Kampala developed around 7 principal hills namely: Kasubi, Mengo, Kibuli, Namirembe, Rugaba, Nsambya and Old Kampala. Today it has expanded well beyond those boundaries and is now composed of five boroughs that govern the city, Kampala Central Division, Kawempe Division, Makindye Division, Nakawa Division, and Rubaga Division.
Kampala City Tour – Itinerary
During the era when Uganda was a protectorate of the British Empire, Governor George Wilson called for collection of objects of interest throughout the country to be collected and displayed. The governor specifically wanted ethnographic material (artifacts that differentiate peoples and cultures with their customs, habits), this collection was initially housed the collection in a small Sikh temple at Fort Lugard on Old Kampala Hill and the Uganda Museum was born.
Church Hill, E. J. Wayland, Bishop J. Wilson, P. L. Shinnie, E. Lanning, and several others, collected a significant number of artefacts to boost the museum by carrying out archaeology and paleontological surveys and excavations between the 1920’s and 1940’s When the specimens collected eventually outgrew the museum at Fort Lugard in 1941, they were moved to the Margret Trowel School of Fine Art at Makerere University College. The museum was moved again to Kitante Hill where it still resides and has done so since 1954.
In 1886 the Buganda kingdom was in the throes of religious turmoil and on 3 June 1886, 32 young subjects of Kabaka Mwanga II of Buganda, were sentenced to be burned to death at Namugongo ( a Buganda execution site now a suburb in eastern Kampala )for their refusal to renounce Christianity. The name “Namugongo” is derived from the word Omugongo, a Luganda word for the back of the body.
During the journey to the execution site, the prisoners went through a lot of torture, which also included dragging them on their backs The Baganda would say “abassajja baabatutte namugongo” meaning “the men were dragged on their backs” Annually on 3 June, Christians from Uganda and other parts of the world congregate at Namugongo to commemorate the lives and religious beliefs of the Uganda Martyrs. Crowds have been estimated in hundreds of thousands in some years. 22 Catholic martyrs were canonized by Pope Paul VI on 18 October 1964 and are regarded as saints in the Catholic Church. A basilica has been built at the spot where the majority of them were burned to death.
Constructed in 1922, Mengo palace is the former home of the Kabaka (King) of Buganda. It has remained vacant since Prime Minister Milton Obote’s coup in 1966 when Kabaka Mutesa II, the then president of Uganda was ousted. Led by the forces of Idi Amin, soldiers attacked the palace and, after several days of fighting, Kabaka Mutesa II was forced into exile. After the coup against Mutesa II, the palace became a notorious army barracks on account of the it’s adjacent site which was turned into a prison and torture-execution chamber built by Idi Amin in the 1970s.
The 30th Kabaka of Buganda, Kabaka Mutesa I Mukaabya Walugembe, who reigned from 1856 until 1884 had a palace on Rubaga Hill. A great fire destroyed the palace which forced him to abandoned the hill and relocated to Mengo Hill. In 1889, his son Mwanga II of Buganda, donated the land on Rugaba hill to the French Catholic missionaries who wanted to set up a Catholic church in the country at that time. In 1914 the missionaries began constructing a modern cathedral at Rubaga, which was completed in 1925 and St. Mary’s Cathedral Rubaga was consecrated on 31 December 1925.
This is the oldest cathedral in Uganda and is the provincial cathedral of the Church of Uganda. In the 1960s, the headquarters of the Church of Uganda moved to All Saints Church in Nakasero then moved back to Namirembe later. The organ at the cathedral was built in 1931 by The Positive Organ Company (1922) Limited. In 1952, after twenty years of service the organ was in need of an overhaul and this work was entrusted to Alfred E. Davis of Northampton, England. The organ gave a further twenty years of service, but after Idi Amin seized power in 1971 it deteriorated seriously during the years of unrest.
The Uganda National Mosque is located at Kampala Hill in Old Kampala. Completed in 2006, it seats up to 15,000 worshipers and can hold another 1,100 in the gallery, while the terrace will cater for another 3,500. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya commissioned the mosque as a gift to Uganda, and for the benefit of the Muslim population. Uganda has many mosques but this one is not only the largest Mosque in East Africa, but its position on top of Kampala Hill offers some fantastic views of the city once you have climbed up to the top of the minaret.
It is important that all women visitors are adequately dressed to be in the environs of the Mosque. The completed mosque was opened officially opened under the name Gaddafi National Mosque, and housed the head offices of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council It was renamed “Uganda National Mosque” in 2013 following the death of Colonel Gaddafi.
The most famous market in Uganda is situated around the confines of Nakivubo Stadium, Owino has everything from traditional medicines to televisions. Once you enter it will take you a while to leave due to the wide range of items you can purchase as well as the fact that it you will probably get lost trying to find your way out!
Owino Market is the largest open market in Uganda, occupying 7.04 hectares of land. The market was created in 1971 when Kampala City Council relocated 320 vendors from Nakasero Market. Estimates put the number of vendors in the market somewhere around the 50,000 mark! Thousands of customers visit this market on a daily basis, and the numbers tend to increase significantly a few days before public holidays and the festive seasons.