Harare

Overview

Introduction

Zimbabwe's capital city, Harare is modern and pleasant. Originally called Salisbury after the then British Prime Minister, the Marquess of Salisbury, the city was founded in 1890 by Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company. It is dominated by a kopje—a hillock or pile of boulders, and it was from here that the colonial leaders surveyed the surrounding open plains and decided that this was a good place for a settlement. On 13 September, the Union Jack was raised on a spot that became Cecil Square (later known as Africa Unity Square after independence), and a 21-gun-fire salute was made to Queen Victoria. During the second anniversary of Zimbabwean independence in 1982, the city's name was changed to Harare. This was derived from the Shona chieftain Neharawa, who lived in the area before the colonials arrived.

Today, Harare has an easygoing charm, and the city is not as bustling and hurried as a metropolis such as Nairobi, Kenya, and we are thankful for that. The central business district is a neat grid of modern office blocks, intercepted by some older colonial buildings, and the broad streets are lined with flowering trees. There isn't a great deal to see and do—in fact, you can visit the highlights in one full day. But add another if you want to slow the pace and do some shopping. Harare has the country's best restaurants and several short excursions can be made from the capital.

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