Harare’s Cathedrals

By Lynette Gibson (Harare Free Walking Tour) 

Have you ever wondered why our city looks the way it does? Could there be hidden stories behind these structures that help us understand who we are today? Recently, developers, administrators and architects have initiated a fascinating and creative dialogue regarding the best of the old and new Harare. Their efforts reveal an intrinsic need to preserve buildings and spaces in the city based on symbolic, sentimental, historical and entertainment value.

The Historic Buildings Advisory Committee to the National Museums and Monuments has a special criterion to select these buildings. It includes, but is not limited to, the following:

• The building must have outstanding representation of a particular architectural style.

• The building is eccentric, original, incorporates unusual materials, or is the only remaining example of its kind.

• It contributes to the environment, and historical associations with either people or events.

Such buildings include the Catholic Cathedral (Simon Vengayi Muzenda Av and Herbert Chitepo Street) and the Anglican Cathedral (Nelson Mandela Street and Sam Nujoma Street).

The Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart was built by French and German brothers with the assistance of African tradesman instead of Europeans tradesman, unusual for the 1950s. It stands in Gothic style, the last echo of the medieval world of craft. Most of the work was carried out in Chishawasha (2 days away by ox-wagon at that time, now a mere 30- minute drive). The construction took 18 months to complete. The architect, Father Le Boenf created other notable works that include the St Georges College, Dominican Convent among other mission churches.

The Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

The Cathedral of Saint Mary and All Saints was built in the Romanesque style between 1913-1964.It has many outstanding features including the original cross in St George’s Chapel made of cigar boxes, carved altar rail, high granite arches, and beautiful cloisters.

It is essential to foster appreciation of our surrounding structures and how they affect our lives in a broader cultural and social context. Whether a local or a tourist, the curious can experience a fun and rewarding process of exploration and discovery of secrets of Harare. 

The Cathedral of Saint Mary and All Saints

To join educational, cultural and historic Free walking tours contact:



+263 784 142 342

Images provided by Edwin R Jaulani

Copyright : Ndeipi Magazine Issue 115

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