Top 10 Historical Places to Visit in Africa

by | Africa

Feb 9, 2023

Our list of Africa’s top 10 historical places to visit comprises exciting features of all the locations we wish we were at right now. They are places we want to return to again and again, and we think that you will, too.

The continent of Africa remains the nest of modern civilization with her over 145 world heritage sites, from the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Egypt, to the Ruins of Greater Zimbabwe and the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania to the Oranmiyan staff in Ile-Ife Nigeria. 

The historical sites and locations to visit in Africa aren’t just locations to behold; they are further proof that Africa is indeed a land of Mesmerizing Beauty. 

Africa has so much to offer to the world when it comes to historic locations, as she already prides herself as the location of over one hundred and forty-five world heritage sites. But for the purpose of this post and to give you a semblance of focus, we shall be looking at ten of such historical places. 

Here are the top historical places you should visit in Africa.

1. The Olduval Gorge, Tanzania

The Olduval Gorge is located in the Serengeti national park in the Serengeti plains in the Arusha region of Tanzania. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world because it is from here that the oldest remains of Homosapiens were found. In other words, it holds the oldest evidence of human evolution from the Homo Habilis to the Homosapiens. 

The Olduval Gorge is also one of the oldest locations of prehistoric activities that predates the common era. Several archaeological findings have been made from this location. 

This place in Africa has become a library of the past to our generation to help further the understanding of human evolution hence making it one of the most historical places to visit in Africa.

A visit to Olduval Gorge Museum will leave you in awe. The museum has remains of stone tools and fossils excavations. A section of the museum is dedicated to Louis and Mary Leakey, who made several archaeological discoveries on the Gorge.

Read: The 15 Best Places to Visit in Africa

2. Ile-Ife, Nigeria

Ile-Ife, or Ife-Lodun as fondly called by the Yorubas, is one of the most historical places to visit in Africa. It is widely believed amongst the Yoruba-speaking people of Western Nigeria and the Carribeans that creation began in Ife and is said to be founded by Oduduwa.

Ile-Ife is located in what is now known as the Osun state of Nigeria. It is here that the famous Oranmiyan staff is located. Ile-Ife is the religious capital of the Aboriginal Yoruba, traditional worshippers, and it is said to be the oldest town in Yoruba Land. 

The Yorubas believe that Ile-Ife is the cradle of Man. It is also home to several ancient artworks and terracotta sculptures, establishing it as one of the most historical places to visit in Africa. 

3. City of Axum, Ethiopia

Axum, or Aksum, is a city located in the Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia. Once upon a time, it was commonly referred to as the epicenter of Christianity in Abyssinia and Africa. The city is also cited as one of the Holiest Cities, among others, recognized by the Patriarchy of Ethiopian Orthodox Church. 

The city is also known for its monuments, ruins, and obelisk that point to its past inhabitants’ religious and social beliefs, making it one of the historical places you’d definitely love to add to your bucket list. 

Read: The 10 Best Markets in Africa

4. The Kigali Genocide Memorial, Rwanda

Established about 15 minutes drive away from the city of Kigali is the memorial set up to commemorate and remember the victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. 

It is a historic place to visit as it contains the remains of over 250,000 dead victims of the Rwandan Genocide. 

The Aegis Trust is superintending the center at the behest of the Rwandan National Commission for the Fight against Genocide, and it is one of the most solemn yet historical locations to visit in Africa.  

5. African Renaissance Monuments, Senegal

Standing over 50 meters tall on the hills of Ouakim, Dakar Senegal is Africa’s highest standing statute and one of the historical places to visit on the coast of West Africa. 

It was conceptualized by Abdoulaye Wade, former Senegalese President, as a symbol of the African Renaissance movement and to mark the nation’s 50th Independence anniversary from France. 

It remains one of the most recent symbols of Pan-Africanism and furthers the ideals of one of the founding fathers of Senegal, Leopold Senghor, who was one of the promoters of the Negritude Movement. 

6. The Great Pyramid of Giza, Cairo-Egypt

The list of top historical places to pay attention to would be incomplete without the Great Pyramid of Giza. 

The Great Pyramid of Giza was, until 1311, the greatest man-made standing structure on Earth for a period of about 3900 years. The Pyramid is the resting place of one of the greatest Pharaohs that ever ruled the land of Egypt. 

The Great Pyramid and other Pyramids constitute a complex of Pyramids in the Memphis Necropolis of Giza, Egypt. They are among the World Heritage sites, no doubt making them exciting historical places in Africa. 

Read: Top Interesting Facts About Africa

7. El-Minna Castle, Ghana

El-Mina castle was built over 500 years ago and is the first European building and trading Post south of the Sahara.

El-Mina was built in 1486, first for trade and commerce purposes, then later used for holding slaves until they were transported to the New World or Europe until the abominable trade was abolished. 

Coming to West Africa for a vacation? Visit this beautiful castle, which will leave you feeling nostalgic due to its historical heritage. The castle is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Africa. 

8. The Ruins of Greater Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

Among the over one hundred and fifty recognized World Heritage Sites in Africa, we have the Ruins of Greater Zimbabwe, which is still believed to be the capital of an unknown Imperial state in the locality that is now part of Zimbabwe.

The Ruins are made of stones and predate many other pre-modern buildings that were said to be built around the same time though details surrounding it still remain sketchy. A visit will no doubt leave every visitor with a suspense-filled adventure. 

Read: 10 Most Beautiful Cities in North Africa

9. City of Timbuktu, Mali

The history and eventual advent of the Europeans into West Africa cannot be complete without taking into cognizance the role of the City of Timbuktu. The once flourishing capital of the Empire of Songhai played towards stirring the curiosity of the Europeans towards its shores. 

Timbuktu was said to be the center of learning, trade, and commerce of the Empire of Songhai. It transversed to what is now part of present-day Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Northern Ghana, and Gambia. 

Timbuktu is home to the famous Sankore Koranic University, which was instrumental to the spread of Islam in West Africa and the Sahel. 

10. Forte Jesus, Mombasa Kenya

It is reputed to be the oldest European Architectural influence in East Africa. Kenya’s Tourism Board regarded this historical location as the most visited tourist destination in Mombasa. 

Fort Jesus was built around 1593 by the Portuguese on the Order of King Felipe II to serve as a fortress for the port city of Mombasa. It is one of the historical places to visit in Africa. 

Bottom Line

Choosing a historic place to visit in Africa is a joyful task with myriad possibilities. Africa is indeed blessed with many historic places and sites, some of which have become recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage sites. A trip to any of such would leave you basking in the Euphoria of History.

By Lonely Africa Editors

The Lonely Africa Team covers everything about Africa. Our team of experts provides in-depth analysis that helps you understand complex topics on the African continent.

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