The Seven Hills of Kampala
7 Hills of Kampala – Find out the initial Seven Hills of Kampala and the new 21 hills of Kampala that the city has since expanded to: Kampala is the capital city of Uganda and it is located in the central region in Buganda kingdom. The city is famously known as the “City of seven hills” because it covered seven hills by the time Uganda got its independence from the British who had settled around Buganda and termed the city as the City of seven hills. Each of these hills has a local name and has an attraction that makes it popular and is worth visiting on your Uganda safari. The hills are Rubaga hill, Namirembe hill, Mengo hill, Makerere hill, Nakasero/Kololo hill, Kampala hill and Mulago hill. Due to continuous growth and expansion of Kampala city, it now covers 21 hills but we maintain the original term “City of Seven hills” because they and the attraction there hold great stories, history and are exceedingly beautiful.
Originally and traditionally, kingdoms in Uganda preferred to built their palaces and establish their capitals on hills and this can be seen from the current Kabaka palace which is situated on Mengo hill, Tooro palace located on a hill in Fort Portal. The hills of Kampala were inhabited by
The Seven hills of Kampala give the city a unique fascinating appearance and geography. They offer spectacular views of the surrounding areas.
List of the 7 Hills of Kampala
Namirembe hill rises to 4,134 ft above the sea level. On this hill is where we find the oldest cathedral in Uganda known as St. Paul’s Cathedral, Namirembe, where the first diocese of the Anglican communion in Uganda was founded. The hill got its name from a luganda word “mirembe” which means “peace” and hence the hill is also referred to as the “Hill of peace”. It would be impressive to pay a visit to the hill and have an opportunity to see this architectural church, learn about its history and enjoy the stunning views of Kampala.
Mengo hill is located next to Namirembe hill. The hill rises to 4,000m above the sea level and has one of the most important properties of the Buganda kingdom the Lubiri (Kabaka’s palace)-King’s palace. The palace sits on an area of four square kilometers. This is where Kabaka Mwanga established his capital after the death of his father in 1884. Close to the hill is the kabaka’s lake that was also dug on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga who also took part in the digging as a sign of being exemplary to his subjects. The lake is the largest manmade lake in Uganda and Mwanga was constructing it with the intention of linking it to Lake Victoria.
The name Mengo was derived from a luganda word “Emmengo” which means “grinding stones”. On Mengo hill is where the 1900 Buganda Agreement was signed between the Kabaka of Buganda and the British colonialists to form the British protectorate.
Old Kampala hill
Also known as Kampala hill, Old Kampala hill is the major hill where the city of Kampala started. The name Kampala was derived from the name of the African antelopes known as Impalas (singular is Impala) which inhabited this hill in the 19th century. The hill was referred to as the “akasozi ka impala” meaning the hill of impalas hence the name “Kampala”. A fort was established at this hill after it was selected by Captain Lugard in the 1890s but the remains were demolished during the construction of a mosque which was commissioned by Iddi Amin dada in 1972. In 2007, a new mosque was opened in this place and it had been constructed as a gift from the president of Libya Gaddafi. It is the biggest mosque in Uganda and the second biggest in Africa. It was named after Gaddafi, Gaddafi Mosque and also known as Uganda Natiional Mosque.
Rubaga hill rises to a height of 4,134 ft above sea level. It is located close Namirembe hill and Mengo hill. On this hill is where the French White Fathers were received by Muteesa I at his palace. After the death of Kabaka Muteesa, his son Kabaka Mwanga took over the throne. At that time the palace was at Rubaga hill but it was struck by lightning and the king shifted to Mengo hill and gave the two hills Namirembe and Rubaga to the Christians so they could establish their churches there.
The name Rubaga comes from a Luganda word “kubaga” which means “to plan”. History has it that the Buganda generals used to plan their wars here, hence the name Rubaga hill.
Currently, Rubaga hill is the home of the Rubaga Catholic Church which is one of the most beautiful architectural churches in Uganda. The residence of the cardinal is situated close to the church. There is also Rubaga Hospital, Rubaga Girl’s school and a home for the elderly.
Makerere hill rises to a height of 4,188 ft above the sea level. It is also known as the “hill of knowledge” because of Makerere University which is located on top of it. Makerere University was the first public university, it started in 1922. It is one of the best universities in Africa and it admits students from different parts of the world.
The hill is located about 3km from Kampala town along the road to Kawempe. The name of the hill changed from Bwaise to Makerere after the King of Buganda forgot to get back to his palace in Mengo because he was with a woman at this place and he was surprised how dawn fell before he returned to the palace. The king/kabaka described it as “Ganno Makerere” meaning that it had dawned without him knowing. The hill was therefore referred to as Makerere.
The name Mulago was derived from a luganda word “omulago” which is traditional herb that had been grown on this hill by Kabaka Ssuuna that the herb would help to protect him from spirits. This Kabaka had established his capital on this hill. Currently, Mulago hill has the largest and one of the 3 national referral hospitals, Mulago National Referral Hospital which receives many hundreds of patients daily. This hill stands at a height of 4,134 ft above sea level and is neighbored by the National museum and Makerere hill among others.
Nakasero hill rises to a height of 4,134 ft above the sea level. It is locat6ed in the centre of Kampala. Historically, the colonial masters settled on the upper part of Nakasero area. It is on Nakasero hill where the State House is situated. This is also where we find a number of embassies and high-end hotels such as Serena hotel, Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Speke Hotel and Grand Imperial Hotel.
Other hills of kampala today include Kibuli hill where we find Kibuli mosque which is also worth visiting, Nsabya hill, Buziga hill, Mbuya hill, Kireka hill, Naguru hill, Mutundwe hill, Banda hill and Mutungo hill among others.
The 21 Hills of Kampala
Kampala has kept on expanding and is currently sited on 21 hills thus the new 21 hills of Kampala.