If you’ve been in and around Kampala you’ve probably seen the beauty that is The Uganda National Mosque famously known as Gaddafi Mosque. What you probably didn’t know is that there’s a tour of the mosque offered by World Ventures Limited that includes the interior and a hike up the minaret that offers a picturesque view of Kampala. After much procrastination I finally made it with Ed in tow.
As I sat in the Uber, ignoring my driver that quite possibly has some type of behavioral disorder,(seriously, on the phone the man was super nice and cordial but the moment we were in there, well….) who despite his great efforts couldn’t dampen my good mood, I realized I was really feeling myself in my ceremonial tunic aka dera dress. I’ve got a few deras from the last time I was in Dar es Salaam. I knew the tourism office provided cover ups but the scout in me loves to be prepared, I’m extra that way.
We got there at about 12:30pm, made our way to the tourism desk and paid the 15,000ugx tour fee. We got lopped in with some Austrian girls making us a group if four. Our guide for the day was Mubarak; just by his whole vibe I gathered it was going to be a very enjoyable tour.
The Gaddafi Mosque was commissioned by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi as a gift to Uganda. construction began in 2003, was completed in 2006 and officially opened in 2007.It was renamed Uganda National Mosque following Colonel Gaddafi’s death as the new Libyan government was reluctant to rehabilitate the mosque under its old name.
The mosques’ exterior is pretty impressive; the interior though is nothing short of beautiful. After going up some steps bare footed, Mubarak led us into this massive Prayer hall in the women’s section. It’s fully carpeted with the most elaborate wall art, quotes from the Quran and spectacular chandeliers. Mubarak then gave us a brief history on Uganda’s politics and how the mosque came to be, every bit of the mosque was imported, the carpet from Libya, Chandeliers from Egypt and door and window panes from Italy. I loved being in there.
We then moved on to the hike up the minaret’s 304 steps. That hike was a feat I tell you, there are no words to describe the perspiration that was going on with all of us. The interior is very castle like with lots of character; it reminded me of Fort Jesus for some reason, a very distant memory for me. Mubarak was intrigued Ed and I were on the tour as apparently Ugandans almost never do this tour, such a shame, y’all are missing out. We stopped at the half way point for a much needed breather. The view up here is incredible; I’ve never seen Kampala like this before. He then gave us a history on the 7 hills of Kampala which from here one can see clearly and vividly on account of the 360 degree view the minaret provides. I did an article on the 7 hills of Kampala; give it a read if you like.
We then climbed to the very top and were rewarded with a crisp clean breeze after that painful hike and of course the view! Mubarak then told us a bit about himself and his upbringing. Pretty cool guy this one. I liked him a lot.
Getting down was a breeze, I was pretty much skipping. Getting out marked the end of the tour which took about an hour to complete. We walked back to the tour desk and waited for our Uber home.
This tour was very informative and educational, I honestly enjoyed it immensely. I haven’t seen this type of architectural beauty anywhere else. Great was to spend a Sunday afternoon if you ask me. Ladies, real talk, if you can go with your own get up, please do, yes cover-ups are available and I imagine they do get washed, the cover-ups provided are still communal, and you can never really know how clean something is.
PS. We were informed there’s a 20,000ugx cover charge to watch fireworks come New Years Eve. It does sound epic especially with that 360 degree view and how beautiful Kampala is at night…..Now you know.