Presidential Palace Museum Kigali

Presidential Palace Museum Kigali Rwanda

The Presidential Palace Museum is one of the frequently visited memorial places in Kigali.  One of the tourist attraction Kigali city, the museum was a home to the former president of Rwanda Juvenal Habyarimana. In April 1994, the then President of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana together with Cyprian Ntaryamira of Burundi, who had been given a lift by the former had their plane shot down and coincidentally fell into his house compound. This is the incident that sparked off the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda. Currently the place is a museum where visitors come to see flight remains, learn about the conflicts in Rwanda and also witness by themselves how the president lived.

Presidential Palace Museum Kigali

The place is located just 4 kilometres from Kanombe Airstrip, on the eastern borders of Kigali. To reach there you take the road to the airport and continue driving for a few kilometers till you reach at the Kanombe military hospital on your right.  Continue driving and the road will change from tarmac to dirt road. As you come to a big Kanombe primary school which is still on your right, from where the road will split into many routes. Turn on your left and that will lead you straight to the museum’s gate. The museum is always open seven days a week starting from 9 am to 5 pm (except during umuganda, when they open at 11 am).

Access to the Presidential Palace Museum

The entrance for non-residents is  Rwf 6,000 where as those with a resident visa pay Rwf 5,000, but do not forget to carry your residency card as it is one of the requirements at the entrance. In case you need to take photos you have to pay another Rwf 2,000 and you are allowed to take photos outside the house and in the garden. Photos of the interior are not accepted.

The president commissioned the house to be built in 1976 and he shifted to this into it in 1980 after its completion. Habyarimana hired a French architect to make a plan for the house, but it him took  time to lay a plan for this beautiful house. This is recognizable in the palace’s conventional and somewhat bulky inside design of rooms that has everything from a “secret” route to a room for carrying out witchcraft and extra rooms more so the room that was apparently used for torture and interrogation his critics.

Juvenal Habyarimana’s former house strange with some rooms superficially in a good condition and others displaying dangerous abandonment and disorder. This strange home gives a real picture of Habyarimana’s own sense of anxiety and mistrust as Rwanda’s head of state during a tremendously terrifying time in the country’s history. The former state house is full of sensors distributed around the house that were to alert the president in case of anyone walking through a certain corridor. The palace had rooms with hidden weapons cabinet built into the television cabinet in his entertainment room. Perhaps the most inquisitive room in the house was the upper floor that had a chapel on one side and a room where he practiced his witchcraft and on the other side is where he consumed magic potions and sacrificed animals of all types together with his in-house witch doctor.

The gardens outside the presidential museum are more normal and well maintained in a good condition .the compound is well kept with variety of many beautiful trees  and flowers of all types shading very lovely patches of grass crisscrossed by stone walkways. The compound also has a tennis court, swimming pool, an outdoor bar and playground equipment are also a available. Near the center of the behind garden are the remains of a concrete pond that once stored the president’s treasured pet, a 300 pound python whose duty it was to fend off evil spirits, as well as imparting fear in any of the president’s visitors who was not in his favor.

At the very rear of the palace yard deceits what may be the greatest piece of the institution – the leftovers of Habyarimana with his 60 passenger jet that was notably shot down on April 6th, 1994, causing the Rwandan Genocide. The plane unexpectedly crashed in the president’s own home yard, killing everyone there together with Burundi president by then. The crash also injured the python’s pond which escaped and nobody ever saw it again.

Overall the Presidential Palace Museum only takes about 1-2 hours to move around the house and the backyard and this will depend on how many stopovers you will make while moving. The guides are available to answer any question or about anything you may need to know. The house itself is in great need of repair, nevertheless, the house walls and all the furniture’s still look the same way they were left before Habyarimana was killed according to Rwanda history. It is absolutely worth read-through – keep your eyes open for any giant pythons in the grass.

Other Tourist Attractions in Kigali and Rwanda at large

The presidential palace can be visited during the Kigali city tour during which, you also go to other attractions in the clean Capital City of Rwanda. Other tourist sites in Kigali include Kigali Genocide Memorial, Inema Arts Centre, Kimironko Market, Kigali City Tower, Kandt House Museum of Natural History and Campaign Against Genocide Museum among others. There are Genocide Museums in Rwanda that include Ntarama Genocide Memorial, Nyanza Genocide Memorial Centre, Nyamata Genocide Memorial, Nyarubuye Genocide Site, Murambi Museum and Bisesero Genocide Memorial Site.

In general tourist Attractions in Rwanda include the outstanding Volcanoes National Park, the home to Mountain gorillas in Rwanda and a base for gorilla trekking safaris. Other include Nyungwe Forest National Park, Akagera National Park and Gishwati-Mukura National Park among the parks. The list of Rwanda’s tourist sites also has Musanze Caves, Ethnographic Museum Rwanda, King’s Palace Museum and many more. You can visit all or some of the above attractions while have a shorter or longer Rwanda gorilla tours and wildlife safaris across the country.