Religious Attractions

Religious Attractions

Namirembe Cathedral

The Anglican now Church of Uganda cathedral perched on top of Namirembe hill, roughly 1.5km west of the city center off Natete Road is one of the most impressive colonial constructions in Kampala and it also offers the superb views over the city center and suburbs. The name Namirembe is a Luganda word meaning the “of peace” thus the hill was traditionally regarded as the hill of peace. The original cathedral completed in 1903 and consecrated a year later was built entirely by Baganda artisans though under supervision of a British missionary and could hold a congregation of 3,000 people. It was described contemporaneously by W E Hoyle as a remarkable building with walls of sun dried bricks and brick columns supporting the thatch roof containing 120 tons of thatch and a ceiling covered with washed reeds of elephant grass. This building was destroyed by lightening in 1910 and the current cathedral, is a conservative structure of red bricks built to vast dimensions and graced by some attractive stained glass windows was completed in 1919.
The Namirembe cathedral also referred to as St Paul’s Church is the biggest Anglican Church in Uganda with magnificent architecture and great interior décor. The Cathedral back yard has a cemetery containing the grave of Bishop Hannington, who lost his dear life in 1885 at place close to Jinja including the grave of Sir Albert cook a pioneering medical doctor who arrived in Kampala in 1896. Brass memorial plagues on the wall testify to the often short lives of Europeans in those early days.

Rubaga cathedral

The cathedral of Rubaga is among the famous worship and architectural places in the country of Uganda. Positioned on the summit of Rubaga hill, the cathedral reckons as one of the high ranking religious and touristic fascinators in the city of Kampala. The site is a significant center in terms of religious, education, hospitality and health to the people of Kampala.
Also referred to as St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, it is over 3 Km from the city center and can be accessed on public commuter taxis, private drive, bodaboda or walking.
Built in an ancient Roman architecture, it was put up in the early 20th Century by the earliest missionaries. The splendid piers, great color paintings of catholic saints featured in its well carved windows and the fabric mosaics combine to make Rubaga cathedral an amazing wonder in the middle of Kampala city.
Adjacent to Rubaga cathedral is one of the five mother hospitals of Uganda – Rubaga hospital. The cathedral back yard has a cemetery where various historical religious personalities lay in rest including the first African Catholic Bishop Joseph Kiwanuka, first African Catholic cardinal, Cardinal Nsubuga Emmanuel to mention but a few.
The hill derives its name from Luganda word Okubaga literally meaning to plan, the hill was used by the Buganda Military generals to plan their wars thus the name. The tale has it that the place was a palace of the 19th King of Buganda, Kabaka Nsobya from 1724 to 1734. In the late 1800s, the fire tragedy befell the place forcing people to abandon it. Upon the arrival of missionaries the then Kabaka of Buganda Kabaka Mwanga offered the land to them which culminated in the establishment of the cathedral from1914 – 1925. The summit of Rubaga offers great scenic views of Kampala city.

Gadhafi national mosque

Old Kampala hill which rises gently to the immediate west of the city center less than five minutes’ walk from the new taxi park was the site of the original fort and capital founded by Captain Lugard in 1890. Enclosed with in the oval road of Old Kampala, the prominence is sprinkled with limited reasonable colonial era buildings of Asian design now generally rather run down though some have been outstandingly refurbished. The Old Kampala area today is most distinguished as the focal point for Kampala’s Islamic Community and the sight of an imposing new mosque. This was initiated by Idi Amin in the 1970s but the project stalled after the dictator’s overthrow and has only recently been completed using money provided by Libyan leader. Colonel Gadhafi. The structure lay dormant as an ugly concrete monolith with a lofty minaret overlooking the city of Kampala. In its back yard lied the old museum which is one of the Kampala’s oldest surviving buildings sadly being slowly dismantled by the grip of a stranger fig tree. When the work on the mosque restarted after a 25 year delay the building was demolished and a replica with the same vaguely Arcadian frontage erected at a more prominent location beside Old Kampala Road. Ground work for the mosque began again in 2004 when the old unfinished establishment was smashed. The new mosque was formally opened and dedicated for worship in 2008 by the late Colonel Gaddafi himself in an event that was attended by several African heads of state. The popularity of Gaddafi National Mosque can be attributed to several factors with the first reason being the fame of Colonel Gaddafi himself who left a landmark on international politics so whenever people both locals and foreigners hear that he did such a thing as constructing a National Mosque for Muslim community in Uganda, the travellers usually come to have a look at it themselves. The second is that the Mosque has interesting features for both locals and tourists one of them being the Minaret or the prayer tower.

Baha’i temple

Positioned on the hill of Kikaya after branching off from Gayaza road, the Baha’i temple is the first of its stature in Africa. The place brags for its lush green environ in the whole of Kampala depicted in its extended grounds that form a perfect picnic ground.
Covering a stretch of 8.5 hectares of land in the out skirts of Kampala city, the foundation stone of the Baha’i temple was laid on 26 January1958 with the architectural guidance of Charles Mason Remey in close collaboration with Shonghi Effendi in design development. This came after the arrival of the Baha’i faith in Uganda in 1951.
At the time of its establishment, the Baha’i temple was the highest structure in east Africa over 38 m tall. It has the seating capacity of over 800 people on 515 Sq.m of floor space. Like most of the faith in Uganda apart from Islam, the Baha’i temple functioning was disrupted by Idi Amin who banned the Baha’i faith from the country together with 26 other denominations and its activities stopped on 16 September 1977. However the building remained until it was later re-opened for worship after the overthrow of Idi Amin by the Ugandan exiles with the help of Tanzanian forces.
The architectural design of the Baha’i temple blends with the landscape. The shape features the traditional African huts while its spreading eaves form a round porch on the lowermost outward level of the structure, ensuring its protection from periodical excesses of rains, winds, heat and dust prone to the area.

Namugongo martyrs shrine

Situated about 12 km from Kampala Central along Jinja Road, Namugongo an established place of execution in traditional Buganda, is reminisced nowadays because of cold blood that was shed there on 3rd June 1886 at the order of Kabaka Mwanga. In the last week of May, unknown number of Baganda men and men suspected or known to have been baptized were detained near Mengo and forced to march by some accounts naked while others were dragged on their back to the executing place - Namugongo, after which they were kept in captivity for a couple of days while a large pyre was being prepared. On the morning of 3rd June, those prisoners who had not already done so were given one final opportunity to renounce their recently assumed belief. If any of the new converts embraced this offer goes unrecorded, 26 known individuals divided evenly between catholic and Anglican turned it down. One Martyr, Charles Lwanga who was the head of the catholic contingent was hacked apart and thrown into the fire there and then. On the following day, lasting converts were bound in reed mats and thrown on to the pyre and burnt alive. Over 26 reminisced sufferers of the holocaust were all baptized and thus known to one or other mission by name but contemporary reports indicate that more than 30 people were thrown into the fire. In 1920, Pope Benedict XV paved the way for future canonization by declaring blessed the 13 known catholic martyrs at Namugongo together with another nine catholic victims of separate killings in May 1886. The 22 catholic martyrs were finalized canonized during Vatican II conference by Pope Paul VI on 18 October 1964. Pope Paul VI paid a visit to Uganda – the first reigning pope to set foot in Sub Saharan Africa to make pilgrimage at Namugongo in July 1969, where he instructed that a shrine and a church be built on the spot where Lwangawas executed. Namugongo Martyrs Church devoted in 1975 and subsequently named basilica church, is unusual and impressive building, metallic and modernistic in form however grounded on the traditional Kasiisira style. The site was visited by Archbishop Robert Runcie of Canterbury in 1984 and in 1993 by Pope John Paul II. The execution of these converts on 3rd June still stands in the hearts of the people and is regarded as a public holiday in Uganda and is marked worldwide on the church calendar in honor of Uganda martyrs.