Rwanda Art Museum
The former Presidential Palace Meseum Rwanda which is now a museum is one of the memorial sites in Kigali that any traveler should not miss to visit on their Rwanda safari. The Presidential Palace museum Rwanda was the home to the former president of Rwanda before his death which led to the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
On 6th April 1994, the plane that was carrying the Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana and the Burundian president Cyprian Ntaryamira was shot as it was trying to land in Kigali. By coincidence, the plane fell in the compound of president Habyarimana and the wreckage can still be seen there. Both presidents were Hutu and this initiated the most brutal massacre in Rwanda between the Hutu and the Tutsi. They shot and slaughtered each other leading to deaths of about 1,000,000 Rwandese.
Today, this home is a memorial site and Rwanda art museum that was set aside as a remembrance for the beginning of the Rwanda genocide. After about 26 years now, tourists who spare time and go there get a chance to see the remains of the plane that was carrying n the presidents.
The late Habyarimana wanted a beautiful foundation of his house and so he hired a French architect who drew an initial plan for the house. The house was constructed in 1976 and by 1980, it was complete and he started living there. The house was big and has several rooms where he carried out different things. There are secret routes in the house leading to where he used to keep disobedient people to be tortured and another room where he used to do witchcraft from among others.
You will be shocked at how strange the Rwanda presidential palace museum looks with some rooms looking very good while others looking totally bad yet under the same structure. It is said that it was as a result of the president’s worry and suspicion due to the extremely terrifying period during his leadership as the president of Rwanda.
There are several sensors in the house which made immediate alerts to the president in case of any movements in the restricted areas. A number of weapons were found in the house. The most inquisitive area in this housed was the upper floor which had a chapel and witchcraft room on opposite sides. It is said that the witchcraft room is where the late Habyarimana with the help of his watch doctor, consumed magic portions and made animal sacrifices.
The outside areas around the house are in good condition. There is a tennis court, a swimming pool, an outdoor bar and playground equipment. The gardens are well maintained with beautiful trees and flowers separated by stone walkways to keep them in good condition. There are the remains of the concrete pond near the center of the behind garden. The concrete pond stored a 300 pound python, a pet that the president treasured a lot. Its duty was to fend off evil spirits and also impart fear in any person who came to the palace yet they were not in favor of the president. After the president’s plane had been shot, it destroyed some things around his palace including the pond of the python creating way for it to escape and it is said that no one ever saw it again.
The wreckage from the plane sits near the palace yard. It involves the remains of Habyarimana and the 60 passenger jet.
Location of the presidential palace museum in Kigali / Rwanda Art Museum
It is located about 4 kilometers from Kanombe airstrip, in the eastern part of Kigali. From Kigali city, you drive through the airport road which will take you via Kanombe military hospital, then Kanombe primary school on the right on the dirt road. You’ll then get to a junction with various routes and you’ll turn to the left, a route that will lead you to the museum gate.
To access the Presidential Palace Museum Kigali, you are required to pay an entrance fee of Rwf 6,000 if you are not a resident of Rwanda and residents are required to pay Rwf 5,000 after showing their residency cards at the entrance. Photos are not allowed inside the palace building but you can take them from outside. You are required to pay extra Rwf 2,000 in order to take the photos. An exploration of the entire palace could last for about 2 hours or less. There are guides to take you around the palace and answer all your questions.
Consider checking out on where one of the bloodiest massacres in the world started, see the remains of the reasons to why the genocide started and have a story to tell about this sad memory of Rwanda.