Harare, capital city of Zimbabwe
In many ways, Harare is an atypical African capital, influenced more by its Western history than by its West African roots. You will find flashy cars, fast-food restaurants and gleaming glass towers instead colorful markets or traditional garb that characterize many West African capitals. The influx of office buildings in the last 20 years is a testament to post-Independence prosperity, but the city still manages to retain a slightly provincial feel. Harare is still harshly divided into rich and poor neighborhoods thanks to colonial planning, and visitors should explore both to fully understand the Zimbabwean capital.
The city center around Fourth Street is the main commercial area, lined with smart shops, restaurants and cafes. The attractive pedestrian-only First Street is a great place to sit at outdoor cafes and watching the passing scenes, and Jason Moyo Avenue is the main tourist strip, home to curio shops, information offices and restaurants.
African Unity Square is the heart of the capital, founded in 1890 as Cecil Square in honor of Cecil John Rhodes, founder of Rhodesia. The locals changed the name in 1988 to shed its colonial affiliation and reflect the unification of Zimbabwe's two main political parties. Today, the square is bedecked with fountains and often populated by exuberant flower sellers, locals making music and children playing games under the watchful eyes of their mothers.
The Parliament Buildings lie north of the square. Originally planned in 1895 to be a hotel, the buildings were taken over by the British South Africa Company to use as a post office in 1898. Just one year later, the site played host to the first Legislative Assembly. Today, visitors can explore the buildings only by guided tour arranged through the Chief Information Officer of the Parliament.
The sandstone Anglican Cathedral makes the western edge of the African Unity Square. Construction of the cathedral began in 1913 and continued for another 50 years. Starkly impressive granite columns dominate the somber interior, but some lightness is achieved by the cartoon-like murals that tell the story of the stations of the cross. Visit during choir rehearsals to hear Shona women sing vernacular hymns backed by traditional percussion instruments.
Well-manicured and popular, the Harare Gardens are the most lovely of the capital's public spaces. Wedding parties parade the gardens on the weekends, school kids study there in the afternoons and couples stroll through the beautiful grounds to catch a break from the chaos of the city. On Sundays, a huge market takes over, bringing a vibrant energy and many crafts to the space.
Just a short walk away is the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, which first opened in 1957 and offers a stunning collection of stone sculptures by local artist Joram Mariga. The sculpture garden is inhabited by transforming beast-humans and mythological creatures and temporary exhibits highlight West African textiles, architectural designs female artists and landscape paintings.
Harare's suburbs are home to many traditional tourist attractions, including the Chapungu Village and Sculpture Park, the liberation monument Heroes' Acre, the National Archives of Zimbabwe, the National Botanic Gardens and the kid-friendly Mukuvisi Woodland Nature Reserve and Environment Center.
Harare Geographical Location
Harare is located in the northeast of Zimbabwe and is its largest city.
The approximate population of Harare is 2,800,000 within the metropolitan area.
English, Shona, and Sindebele are the official languages of Zimbabwe with numerous tribal languages spoken throughout the country.
Harare Predominant Religion
- 50% Syncretic
- 25% Christian
- 24% Indigenous Beliefs
- 1% Other
The syncretic population follows a combination of Christian and indigenous beliefs.
After the Zimbabwe dollar was abandoned in 2009, the US Dollar, Euro, and South African Rand have been the most widely accepted currencies.
It is pleasantly hot throughout the year in Harare with a rainy season between November and March. The remainder of the year sees virtually no rain.
Harare Main Attractions
- The National Gallery
- National Archives
- Chapangu Sculpture Park
Other Attraction in Harare
- The Kopje
- National Botanic Garden
- Wild is Life