A reconstruction of the traditional royal residence, the King’s Palace is a beautifully-crafted thatched dwelling shaped like a beehive.In olden times, Nyanza was the heart of Rwanda. According to oral tradition, it was the site of battles and power struggles.
For a long time, the monarchy was mobile, moving the court between various locations. When it eventually settled in one place, Nyanza was the obvious choice. The capital of the kingdom had as many as 2,000 inhabitants.
The King’s Palace Museum is based in Nyanza District, Southern Province,88 km from Kigali City.
Rwandan Monarchical System
King’s Mutara III Rudahigwa’s Palace offers a detailed look into the Rwandan monarchical system and its abolition in early 1960s due to colonialism. The palace was restored to its 19th Century state as a replica and was made entirely with traditional materials. Recently the Long horned royal cows “Inyambo”were introduced because cows form an integral part of the Rwanda Culture and were initially the King’s symbol of prestige. Visitors are always fascinated by the procession of these royal cows which are famous for their impressive long horns, height, gentle nature and the traditional poems.
Along the traditional palace is the 1931 modern palace where King Mutara Rudagigwa resided until he passed away in 1959. It now serves to display Rwanda history from the 15th Century.
On the neighbouring hill of Mwima,One can also visit the mausoleum where King Mutara III, his wife Queen Rosalie Gicandaand King Kigeli IV Ndahindurwa were laid to rest.
Reverence for the Long Horned Cow
If the country’s impassioned conservation efforts don’t convince you that Rwandans have a reverence for animals, a visit to the King’s Palace Museum certainly will. The star attraction at the museum (one of Rwanda’s eight national museums) are the inyambo (sacred cows) and their staggeringly large horns. Throughout the day, traditional singers lull the cows into a mellow state by belting poems—a ritual that’s unique to Rwanda.
The museum itself is just as interesting as the four-legged creatures out back. It showcases a replica of a king’s palace from the 15th century with a thatched roof, royal hut, and fresh milk hut traditionally run by an unmarried woman.
Tourists can also explore the colonial-style home that was once the royal residence of King Mutara III Rudahigwa in the mid 20th century. The interior design is particularly striking, blending Rwandan patterns with European-style furniture (some of which was actually owned by the king).