Great Zimbabwe - A view from our expert author

Great Zimbabwe Zimbabwe by 2630ben, ShutterstockGreat Zimbabwe is the largest stone structure ever built south of the Sahara © 2630ben, Shutterstock

The largest and best-preserved ancient stone-walled city in sub-Saharan Africa is the country’s greatest national monument.

A national monument, this magnificent ruined city on its 722ha site, 25km southeast of Masvingo, is the largest stone structure ever built south of the Sahara. It was the base for a succession of kings and rulers spanning four centuries, and has subsequently had the whole country named after it. The term zimbabwe or dzimbahwe is derived from the Shona words dzimba dza mabwe (‘houses of stone’), referring not just to this prime site but to the hundreds, if not thousands, of similar but smaller sites in this area and further afield. The strange carved soapstone birds found here have provided the country with its national symbol.

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