Historical Sites, Museums, and Monuments in Nyeri & Central Kenya
Central Region of Kenya comprises of 5 counties. Namely; Nyeri, Kiambu, Murang’a, Kirinyaga and Nyandarua County. The region is well known for coffee and tea farming together with the business acumen of its people.
Below are some of the least known museums, monuments and historical sites that can be found in the region.
Top 7 things to do in Nyeri County and the larger Central Kenya Region
Italian war memorial Church, Nyeri
The Italian War Memorial Chapel, located at Mathari, Nyeri, was built in honor of the fallen Italian soldiers and their African recruits from the Second World War. It is used not for regular worship, but only to celebrate a special mass on every 2nd September of the year in memory of the soldiers.
On the entire walling of the main church building are memorials for the Italian servicemen who died during the WWII. Each memorial is in the form of a small oblong plague indicating the name of the soldier, the battalion he served in, and the place where he died.
At the far front before the altar is the grave of a senior Italian Army officer. His statue and military paraphernalia from the period of the war are placed at the beautiful marble, grave. The beauty of the architectural design, the authentic Italian décor, the final finishes and the well-placed bronze and copper plagues make the church a site to behold.
Mau Mau Cave and the Fig Tree
The Mau Mau cave is found inside the Aberdare forest in the Aberdare National Park. It is situated underneath the Magura Falls, and it is officially known as the Queens cave. The Mau Mau cave was the forest hideout of Kenya’s independence war hero and Mau Mau leader, Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi.
On the other hand, the Fig tree is a gigantic Mugumo tree deep inside the Aberdare forest. It was used by Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi and his soldiers (freedom fighters), as a post office.
Due to its position inside the forest and the presence of dangerous wild animals like the Buffaloes, it is recommended that a visitor carries an armed guard and guide. The KWS HQ office will help in getting the Guide.
Mugumo Gardens in Thika, Kenya
Mugumo Gardens is a historical site in Thika that holds the remains of Kenya’s forgotten monuments, a Mugumo tree. In 1948, Kikuyu seers led by the legendary Mugo Wa Kibiru made a trench and prophesied that 10 years after the colonial forces crossed that trench, this Mugumo tree in Thika would fall down and Kenya would gain independence.
On 1st June 1953 Mau Mau fighters enticed some British army soldiers to cross the trench by camping near the trench and taunting them thus forcing them to give chase and inadvertently cross the trench.
Immediately, the colonial government fortified the tree with the concrete structure seen today. Despite their efforts, the Mugumo tree split into two parts and fell in two stages in 1963. Kenya got independence in the same year as the seers that prophesied.
On November 16, 1969, a new Mugumo tree was planted by H.E Mzee Jomo Kenyatta next to the structure that held the original tree.
Mukurwe Wa Nyagathanga, Nyeri
Mukurwe Wa Nyagathanga in Murang’a town is a mythical home of Gikuyu and Mumbi, the founders of Kikuyu community. It is also the location of the “Handu Hatheru”, Agikuyu Shrine.
According to the Kikuyu legend, “Gikuyu”, the father of the community, was commanded by God to settle in a place where he would find a big Mukurwe tree as well as birds called Nyagathanga. This is where the site acquired its name from.
Located about 20Km south-east of Nyeri town, Mukurwe Wa Nyagathanga has a model Kikuyu homestead. It also harbors construction remains of a hotel that was abandoned after Kikuyu seers cursed it as unfit for the holy site.
While learning the history and culture of the Kikuyu Community, it is recommended to visit with a caretaker who personally witnessed the proclamation of the site as a holy site. He tells an incredible story of how the project was stalled by falling trees and other calamities.
Pax-Tu House and Baden Powell Grave in Nyeri
Pax Tu house is the home of the founder of the Scouts movement, Lord Baden Powell here in Kenya. Located inside the Outspan Hotel in Nyeri, it was built for him as a recovery home in 1927 by his best friend and former personal secretary, Eric Sherbrook Walker.
Mr. Walker built the house in the same design as Lord Powell’s house in Britain. He named it “Pax Tu” after the hill where Baden Powell’s home in England was located.
Room 45 of the Outspan Hotel was Lord Baden Powell’s bedroom and is open to guests at an extra cost. The rest of the rooms have since been converted into a scout’s museum.
In 1937, Lord Baden Powell failing health triggered his move to Nyeri where he spent his last four years at Pax Tu House. He died in 1941 and was buried at the “Baden Powell Grave” located in Nyeri town.
PCEA Church of the Torch in Kikuyu
In 1888, the missionary Rev, Watson Scott of the Church of Scotland arrived in Thogoto in Kikuyu to start a mission. He established the Thogoto mission Center about 20 kilometers North –West of Nairobi. Today the center is called The Church of Torch.
The missionaries trained early African Christian leaders to read the Bible spread the word and act as interpreters of the Christian message. Thogoto, therefore, became one of the earliest centers of learning in the country with schools such as Alliance High School admitting native Kenyans.
It is at the Church of Scotland Mission that Kenya’s first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta had his early education from 1909. The Church of Scotland later changed its name to PCEA (Presbyterian Church of East Africa).
AIC Kijabe Church Ruins
AIC Kijabe Church was built in 1895 in Kijabe town. Located at the edge of the Great Rift Valley Escarpment, Kijabe translates to “Windy” in Maasai dialect. It is a town overlooking breathtaking scenes across the Rift Valley.
Kijabe town is about 6,000 feet above sea level, has a cool climate and has a water spring with Sulphur at the foot of the slopes which attracts a lot of people for its healing and medicinal qualities.
However, the original church was brought down by villagers, after they deemed it unsafe for use. Some ruins and the original church bell housing still stand in the compound.
In 1957, a new church was built under the guidance of Local elders and it stands today next to the ruins of the original church.
Some of the other Notable Museums, Monuments, and Historical sites in Central Kenya
- Manse Kikuyu
- Karima Hill
- Bildad Kagia’s Mausoleum
- Naromoru Mau Mau Cave
- Dedan Kimathi’s Trench
- Ichagaki Parish Church
- Naromoru Mau Mau Cave
- Old Clock Tower in Nyeri
- National Museums of Kenya – Nyeri
- Nyeri Club
- Queen Elizabeth Monument
Would you want to have a tour in any of the mentioned sites? Contact us to arrange for one.
Comment below on any sites that we haven’t included on our list.
Quote of the day
“Resources on the planet are limited, and limited resources can come to an end. But there are also a lot of resources that are renewable. A lot of lands, for example, can be reclaimed from the encroaching deserts.” – Professor Wangari Maathai.