Great Zimbabwe Zimbabwe by 2630ben, ShutterstockAs the largest and best-preserved ancient stone-walled city in sub-Saharan Africa, the ruins of Great Zimbabwe lie at the heart of the country’s enigmatic, historical past © 2630ben, Shutterstock

The largest, best-preserved ancient stone-walled city in sub-Saharan Africa.

 A national monument, this magnificent ruined city on its 80ha 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 dzimbabwe is derived from the Shona words dzimba dza mabwe (‘houses of stone’), referring not just to this prime site but also to the hundreds of similar but smaller sites in this area and further afield. The strange carved soapstone birds found here have provided the country with its ubiquitous national symbol. 

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