Great Zimbabwe: A medieval castle in southern Africa

The fortress that was out of place: the first explorers that rediscovered Great Zimbabwe for the western world at the end of the 19th century, refused to believe that such a fine and elaborate construction, with a look more typical of Medieval Europe, could be found in these latitudes, closer to the Tropic of Capricorn than the lands of the crusaders.

Conclusive evidence that the complex came from African origins was not found until 1929. Until then, the largest ancient structure south of the Sahara Desert was attributed to everyone from migrating Hebrew or Arabian tribes to the Queen of Sheba.

Great Zimbabwe
The magnificent ruins of the Shona people's civilization first began to be erected in the 11th century and continued to expand for more than 300 years. Image by Greg Imberty

Great Zimbabwe Ruins
The resemblance of these fortifications to those of the castles built during the European middle ages helped to maintain biased beliefs that African uncivilized African people in loincloths would not be able to create such an organized work of engineering. Image by Erik Törner

Great Zimbabwe Enclosure
The outer wall of the Great Enclosure has walls of up to 36 feet (11 m) high.
Image by Erik Törner

Great Zimbabwe Discovery
The elaborate masonry work had to be very well planned, as the stones fitted each other perfectly and no mortar was used. Image by Louis Reynolds

Great Zimbabwe Empire
Instead of straight lines, the walls are designed following undulating curves.
Image by Van Zyl

Kingdom of Mutapa
Detail of some of the elegant bent-shaped steps.
Image by J Armstrong

African Castle
Organic look. They also took advantage of the natural layout of the area, building walls dovetailed into the rocks.
Image by Kim + Craig Young

Mysteries Zimbabwe
Many mysteries surround Great Zimbabwe. It is unknown why it was abandoned, nor is there a clear explanation of its location, apparently in the middle of nowhere, but at the same time in an area very rich in natural resources.
Image by Erik Törner

Kingdom of Zimbabwe
A very scenic pair of boulder balls.
Image by Seashehl

African Machu Picchu
Great Zimbabwe could be considered the African Machu Picchu.
Image by Steve 544

Corridors Zimbabwe
Narrow corridors between the walls. The sky was the roof, as the rooms never had any ceiling.
Image by Alison Westwood

Tower Zimbabwe
The conical tower is an icon not only for the ruins, but for the whole country, along with some small bird-shaped artifacts found that have become a national emblem. Image by Alison Westwood

Zimbabwe Notes
Zimbabwe is also the country where the hyperinflation in 2008 led its central bank to print 100 trillion dollar notes.
Image by Steena

Great Zimbabwe Art
Image by Krzysztof Kryza

Great Zimbabwe Art
Nowadays, a squad of exotic trees is slowly taking positions over the place.
Image by Matt Werner

Agama Lizard
Also you can meet the spectacular Rainbow Agama lizards, which dramatically change color during the breeding season.
Image by Bart Wursten


  1. I recently watch a documentary about Karl Mauch.

    He was looking for King Solomon's mines but instead he found this.
    The book, 'King Solomon’s Mines', was largely based on Mauch’s notes.

    The author, H. Rider Haggard, became very wealthy as a result, whereas Mauch died a pauper according to the documentary I watched.

    It was also suggested that perhaps King Solomon’s mines were in fact copper mines as copper, in those days, would have been worth a fortune!

    I have this on my blog but your pictures, Ra, are terrific!!!
    I think I will put your link on my post.

  2. Thanks a lot for your comment, contributing with more details about this interesting story!

  3. Happy to add some info! I love your blog!


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