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Last year saw a 27% increase in visitors to the Great Zimbabwe National Monument in the Masvingo Province – 322km from Harare – owing to increased efforts in marketing destination Zimbabwe to source markets.
Figures released by National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) show that 78 000 tourists visited the Monument in 2018, up from 61 000 the year before. NMMZ Director of the Masvingo Province, Lovemore Mandima, says November and December 2018 recorded the highest number of tourist arrivals, with each month recording more than 15 000 arrivals. He says prospects are high that tourist arrivals will surge in 2019.
The Monument, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is considered the most important archaeological site yet found in sub-Saharan Africa. Though historians are still seeking answers to the origin and purpose of the city, evidence suggests the Shona ancestors built it, and that it served as a spiritual centre during that era.
The monument was constructed between 1250 and 1450, from regular rectangular granite blocks, placed one upon the other without mortar and without the use of tools, stone masonry that few could emulate today. This World Heritage Site is a unique historic, cultural and archaeological landmark, with many unusual artefacts, including the Zimbabwe bird (a national emblem and the subject of myths and legends).
Some of the huts and buildings in the monument are said to have been constructed during the 11th century by the ancestors of the Shona people. Among the many granite walls, one stands out – the Great Enclosure. Its walls extend more than 244 metres.
Other centres to visit in Masvingo include Lake Mutirikwi and Tugwi-Mukosi Dam.