Understanding where one comes from and who they are could be one of life’s biggest questions. It may not be easy to answer this question especially when one lacks knowledge of the depth of your culture and history. Besides, there is nothing that gives a sense of identity and belonging more than shared heritage that provides a common past.
Namibia is home to a variety of cultures and a history as varied as its landscapes. From special monuments like historical buildings, sculptures, paintings to everything important because of its historic or artistic value the country offers great heritage diversity.
To celebrate the cultural heritage of all Namibians, the National Heritage Council Namibia holds an annual Heritage Week across Namibia to showcase the different cultures that can be found in Namibia. This week gives an opportunity for all Namibians to participate in a celebration of their natural and cultural heritage. So in celebrating Namibia’s great diversity and culture below are some of the heritage sites that one could visit.
Elisabeth House is a historic building that was proclaimed a national monument in 1986. In one complex, Elisabeth House reflects an architectural symbiosis of two different buildings designed by two German architects of the colonial period. It was used as a maternity ward from 1908 to 1981 when it closed its doors. Within its 73 years of existence, 12 669 babies were born within its walls. The building is now part of the Namibia University of Science and Technology.
Officially consecrated in 1910, the Christuskirche is the oldest Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia. While built in the neo-Romantic style, it also displays an influence of Art Nouveau, which was popular in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century.
The church was designed by Gottlieb Redecker and the various materials and objects in the church, like the bronze bells, stained glass windows and the altar, were donated by different people and firms in Germany.
The walls of the church are built with sandstone found in the Windhoek area, and the entrance is made of Carrarian marble from Italy. The church tower is 42 meters in height. The names of all German officers, soldiers and settlers who were killed during the colonial wars in Namibia appear on a bronze plaque attached to a wall in the church.
Independence Memorial Museum
Dedicated to Namibia’s struggle for independence, the museum hosts historical displays and the country’s anticolonial and independence struggle. The museum was inaugurated by former President Hifikepunye Pohamba in March 2014. The museum gives great insights into Namibia’s history with graphic paintings dramatically conveying the tragedy of war, display cabinets and memorabilia. The first floor tells the story of Namibia under colonial rule and the second floor narrates the resistance movement struggles, while finally the top floor is dominated by the road to independence. The building has a glass elevator that offers you great views over Windhoek as you move up.
Heroes’ Acre serves as a memorial for the many brave souls who played a role in the fight for Namibia’s independence, freedom and democracy. It is located about 10 km south of Windhoek.
Heroes’ Acre is a modern, state-of-the-art national symbol that was inaugurated by His Excellency, Dr Sam Nujoma, Founding President of the Republic of Namibia, on 26 August 2002. Its construction was motivated by the need to foster a spirit of patriotism and nationalism, and to pass on the legacy to the future generations of Namibia.
Heroes’ Acre took 13 months to build and covers a total area of over 732 hectares. It is 286.7 meters long and has a width of 134.2 meters.
The main attractions at Heroes’ Acre are the eternal flame that burns 24-hours a day, the heroes’ medal, the eight-meter-tall sculpture of the “Unknown Soldier”, the curved relief depicting the struggle and the pavilion. Other interesting features include the gateway, the sculptured couple on the roundabout and the restaurant.
Windhoek Railway Station
Marked by the narrow-gauge locomotive, vintage 1900, which used to work the old line between Swakopmund and Windhoek, the station was built in 1912 by Deutsche Staatsbahn. The Windhoek Railway station building also houses famous Railway Museum where visitors can find an extensive collection of railway service items as well as photo archives and documents.
The Gibeon Meteorites offer you a unique opportunity to view some of the oldest and rarest known of material to man. Mounted on steel columns, a collection of some 30 specimens of the meteorite shower that struck the earth in the vicinity of Gibeon many years ago can be viewed in Post Street Mall. The Gibeon Meteorites were first discovered by the British explorer Sir James Edward Alexander in 1838 when travelling to the north of Bethany mission station.
This is Namibia’s first World Heritage Site with a massive open-air art gallery that is of great interest to international rock-art connoisseurs. The 2000-plus rock engravings, estimated to be 6000 years old, represent one of Africa’s largest and most noteworthy concentrations of rock art.
It is believed by many that the creators of the rock art were the medicine people or shamans, who incised their engravings as a means of entering the supernatural world and recording the shaman’s experience among the spirits.
The rock engraving process could prepare the shaman for a state of trance by the repetitive chipping and concentration of energy. Etched into the rock are thus stories within stories, eternalized as the legacy of the past.
Fish River Canyon
The Fish River Canyon of southern Namibia is the second largest canyon in the World after the Grand Canyon of the USA. It consists of a northern upper and a southern lower canyon. From the first waterfall north of the northernmost viewpoint, to a point opposite the Chudaub trigonometrical beacon, the canyon is 56 km long, measured along the river course. The lower canyon is between 460 and 550 m deep and 5 km wide, whereas the upper canyon is only 160 to 190 m deep, but 8 km wide.
Quiver Tree Forest
The Quiver Tree Forest (Kokerboom Woud in Afrikaans) is a forest and a well-known tourist attraction of southern Namibia. It is located about 14 km north of Keetmanshoop, on the road to Koës, in the Gariganus farm.
It comprises about 250 specimens of Aloe dichotoma, a species of aloe that is also locally known as “quiver tree” (Afrikaans: kokerboom) because Bushmen use its branches to make quivers. The forest is spontaneous; the tallest quiver trees are two to three centuries old. The forest was declared a national monument of Namibia on June 1, 1995.