The Empire of Great Zimbabwe

Groß Simbabwe (c) Ulamm

Near by Maswingo, a small town in Zimbabwe, there are the ruins of the legendary empire of Great Zimbabwe. No other civilisation in Africa south of the Sahara had built such impressive tempels and buildings. Great Zimbabwe has been built between the 12th and 15th century.  

Great Zimbabwe, a mysterious Empire

Die Türme von Groß Simbabwe (c) JackyR

After the Egyptian pyramids, the ruins of great Zimbabwe are Africa’s second largest monuments. They are the remains of a religious metropolis, existing long before the arrival of the first Europeans. Walls up to 10 metres high, little towers and stockades from the 13th century are well preserved. The city was built from granite blocks stacked on top of each other. Incredible that this was constructed without any mortar, but still defied centuries. Up until today, Great Zimbabwe holds many mysteries, as the inhabitants of the Empire did not have any scripture. Nobody knows, how the architects were able to build such complex constructions without a writing system. During its Golden Ages from the 11th until the 15th century, Great Zimbabwe’s influence extended to Botswana and Mozambique. The Empire globally carried on commerce, since it had developed the harbours at the Indian Ocean. In the ruins goods from Europe and even China were found. The Shona people exported gold and copper and imported cotton and porcelain.

The Zimbabwe Bird, a Symbol of an old Empire

Der Simbabwe Vogel (c) Patrick Fischer

The symbol of the old Empire is birds made from black pitchstone. They were positioned on the city walls and, as stony guards, appeared to protect the city from enemies. They bordered a sanctuary and served as oracle to the priests. Even today, the stone birds are the emblems of Zimbabwe. After its independence, the country received its name Zimbabwe from the old Empire.