The African continent is not only blessed with warm weather, a variety of wildlife and great people and food, but also with great historical sites that tell the diverse and rich history of the continent. The continent has long been inhabited and has some amazing historical sites to show for it. Check out these impressive examples of architecture, culture, and evolution as we explore 5 historical sites that you should visit during your next trip.
Thebes is one of the famed cities of antiquity. Its remains, some of which date back to the 11th dynasty (2081–1939 BCE) of ancient Egypt, lie on both sides of the Nile River in what is now the modern-day country of Egypt. The Thebes area also includes the archaeologically rich sites of Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, and Karnak. The remains found at these sites—including impressive temples, palaces, and royal tombs—provide a view of the architecture, religious customs, and daily life of ancient Egypt.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial
The Kigali Genocide Memorial located in in Gisozi just a few minutes’ drive from Kigali, is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi. It honours the memory of those who lost their lives in 1994 Rwandan genocide through education and peace-building. The memorial has three permanent exhibitions, the largest of which documents the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. There is also a children’s memorial and an exhibition on the history of genocidal violence around the world. Many of the tour guides that take visitors through the memorial are survivors of the attacks. Guided tours can be booked online and prices range from $100 to $150 per group of people, and visitors can take photos and video inside the memorial for a price of $20. Audio tours are also available; prices range from $5 to $15. Groups of visitors can range from 4 people to 25 people.
Leptis Magna was the largest city in the ancient region of Tripolitania. It is located on the Mediterranean coast of what is now northwestern Libya and contains some of the world’s finest remains of Roman architecture. It was founded as early as the 7th century BCE by Phoenicians and was later settled by Carthaginians, probably at the end of the 6th century BCE. The city became an important Mediterranean and trans-Saharan trade centre. Leptis Magna changed hands and eventually became one of the best-known cities of the Roman Empire. It flourished under the emperor Septimius Severus (193–211 CE) before later seeing some decline owing to regional conflict. It fell into ruin after it was conquered by Arabs in 642 CE and eventually became buried in sand, only to be uncovered in the early 20th century.
Located on the southern edge of the Sahara in what is now Mali, the city of Timbuktu has historical significance for being a trading post on the trans-Saharan caravan route and as a centre of Islamic culture in the 15th through the 17th century. The city was founded by Tuaregs around 1100 CE, later became part of the Mali Empire, and then changed hands several times after that. Three of western Africa’s oldest mosques—Djinguereber (Djingareyber), Sankore, and Sidi Yahia—were built there during the 14th and early 15th centuries; Djinguereber was commissioned by the famed Mali emperor Mūsā I. The city was a center of Islamic learning and housed a large collection of historical African and Arabic manuscripts, many of which were smuggled out of Timbuktu beginning in 2012, after Islamic militants who had seized control of the city began damaging or destroying many objects of great historical and cultural value.
This paleoanthropological site is located in the eastern Serengeti Plain, within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania. Olduvai Gorge is remarkable for its deposits, which cover a time span from about 2.1 million to 15,000 years ago and have yielded the fossil remains of more than 60 hominins (human ancestors). It has provided the most continuous known record of human evolution during the past two million years. It has also produced the longest known archaeological record of the development of stone tool industries. The famous archaeologist and paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey discovered a skull fragment there in 1959 that belonged to an early hominin.