Khami Ruins

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Khami Ruins
*Tourist Resort
  • Tourist Attraction
Khami Ruins
Khami Ruins
Khami Ruins National Monument1986
SeatBulawayo Metropolitan Province

Khami Ruins is a national monument and tourist attraction 22 km west of Bulawayo. The place hosts local, regional and international tourists who visit the country to have a realistic grasp of the country's diverse and heartening natural environment.
See National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe


Khami Ruins National Monument is located to the west of the Khami River, 22 km from the City of Bulawayo. The property, located on a 1300 m hilltop downstream from a dam built during 1928-1929, covers an area of about 108 ha, spread over a distance of about 2 km from the Passage Ruin to the North Ruin.[1] There are about 35ha of ruins, in more than six built up complexes. The Hill Complex is the largest, and is linked to more complexes by walled passages. The Cross Ruin is to the north. The Monolith Platform is to the south and usually the first a visitor to the complex enters. About 100m east is the Passage Ruin. The Vlei Ruin is then north of this. East of the Passage Ruin is the Precipice Ruin - the lngest decorated wall in Zimbabwe. This is also on the banks (and partly submerged by) of the Khami Dam.


Khami, which developed after the capital of Great Zimbabwe Ruins had been abandoned in the mid-16th century, is of great archaeological interest. The discovery of objects from Europe and China shows that Khami was a major centre for trade over a long period of time.[1]

The property was the capital of the Torwa dynasty, which arose from the collapse of the Great Zimbabwe Kingdom between 1450 -1650 and was abandoned during the Ndebele incursions of the 19th century. It is composed of a complex series of platforms of dry-stone walled structures, emulating a later development of Stone Age culture.

Architectural Design

The architecture of the site and the archaeological artefacts provide evidence for an exceptional understanding of strong, united, early civilisations. They also offer information on the property’s complex socio-economic, religious and spiritual significance for the local communities and for the overall chronological development of Zimbabwe tradition; initiated in Mapungubwe (South Africa), extending to Great Zimbabwe, and through the emergence of later states.[1]

The chief’s residence (Mambo) was located towards the north on the Hill Ruin site with its adjacent cultivation terraces. The population lived in daga huts of cobwork, surrounded by a series of granite walls. These structures display a high standard of workmanship, a great number of narrow passageways and perambulatory galleries and impressive chevron and chequered wall decorations.[1] Khami conforms to Great Zimbabwe in a number of archaeological and architectural aspects but it possesses certain features particular to itself and its successors such as Danangombe and Zinjanja. Revetments or retaining walls found expression for the first time in the architectural history of the sub-region at Khami, and with it were elaborate decorations; it still has the longest decorated wall in the entire sub-region.[1]

Historical Significance

Khami is the second largest stone-built monument in Zimbabwe. Its historical importance lies in its position at the watershed between the history of Great Zimbabwe and the later Zimbabwe period. It is one of the few Zimbabwe sites that were not destroyed by treasure hunters and its undisturbed stratigraphy is scientifically important in providing a much clearer insight into the history of the country.[1]


There are quite a number of activities which suit people of different interests, races and religions. Some the activities found here include viewing of historical material and photo displays. The site can also provide an opportunity for a guided tour with professional archaeologists and historians who are trained to narrate the history of the site for academics, foreigners as well as general visitors.[1] Khami Ruins was accorded National Monument status in 1937. It and Great Zimbabwe were added to the World Heritage list in 1986.

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 , Khami Ruins National Monument,UNESCO,retrieved:2 Apr 2015"

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