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National Monuments


Over extensive periods from 1948 until the present day, national monuments in Namibia have been identified and declared to a number of preceding and current heritage conservation bodies. They are:

  • Historical Monuments Commission (1948-1968).
  • The National Monuments Council of South Africa (1969-1990).
  • The National Monuments Council of Namibia (1990-).

These organizations have protected Namibia's cultural and natural heritage, beginning with the salvaging and reconstruction of 2 Portuguese padrões. These historic crosses were erected by Portuguese explorers whilst searching for a seafaring trade route around the Cape of Good Hope as naval beacons. The first cross was erected by Bartolomeu Diaz at Diaz Point near the Atlantic coastal town of Luderitz in 1488. Although it would be hundreds of years later that fragments of the first cross would be restored and erected on the exact location of the original cross, the history of heritage conservation in Namibia was under way.

Namibia's national monuments fall into the following categories:

  • Archaeology
  • Botany.
  • Churches.
  • Geology.
  • Historical.
  • Industrial heritage.
  • Military.
  • Natural sites.
  • Padrões.
  • Palaeontology.
Archaeology is the scientific study of the remains of past human cultures. It investigates the lives of a nation's earlier people by studying objects that these people have left behind. Artefacts discovered regularly include buildings, artwork, bones, pottery and tools. Archaelogical sites in Namibia include:
Relics: Rock Engravings: Rock paintings:

Botany is a branch of biology concerned with the study of plants. Botanists study all aspects of plant life, including where plants live and how they grow. There are 2 plants (or collections) that have been declared national monuments in Namibia. They are:

    There are 2 examples of meteorites or assemblages thereof, of particular interest to visitors to the country which have been declared national monuments in Namibia. They are:
  • The Gibeon Meteorites, Windhoek
  • The Hoba Meteorite, near Grootfontein.

Public buildings

Public buildings that have been proclaimed national monuments in Namibia reflect mainly German architecture. There construction included sterling efforts to improve the lives of wounded and convalescing soldiers, as well as initiating formal education facilities to German settlers and their children. More striking buildings such as railway stations, prisons, military barracks, stores and a post office emphasize the economic and military growth of early South West Africa. Some examples of public buildings that have been proclaimed national monuments are:

Private buildings

Many private buildings were built as a result of German economic and military dominance during the late 1800's and early 1900's. Hotels were needed to provide overnight accommodation, residences were built combining commercial and living quarters, mining companies and missionaries all required housing and offices as did the expanding banking community. Some of the private buildings that have been proclaimed national monuments are:



Namibian 19th century history is littered with colourful characters. They played a significant role in their fight against colonialism and in usually inconclusive wars amongst themselves. The 1840's, 1860's and later in the 1880's were periods of strife and bloodshed. Competition for territory, water and grazing lands, in particular between the Nama and the Herero, were fierce and unforgiving. Add the missionaries to the invasion and at times it was no wonder that there was widespread panic and confusion in the region.

To the forefront of colonial impetus, rebellion and reprisal, were 3 very influential people. Jonker Afrikaner a commando who united tribes, raised taxes and raided cattle for his people. Axel W Eriksson was a well-known hunter and pioneer of 19th century South West Africa, documented as substantially helping the Dorsland Trekkers from starvation and failure. Kahimemua Nguvauva, a Chief of the Mbanderu, (Herero clan) was taken prisoner in the late 19th century for his part in colonial uprisings against the Germans. The graves of these 3 Namibian protagonists have been deservedly declared national monuments:

Historical Cemetries

There are a number of historical cemeteries that have been proclaimed national monuments in Namibia. They include burial grounds for freedom fighters and graves of families who died during early Nama and Herero wars. Officials and soldiers from the German administration have their graveyards too. Settlers, pioneers and thousands of ordinary people, many of them not caught up in the horrors of war, have been buried in their churchyards or other final resting places. Cemeteries proclaimed national monuments include:

Historical sites

There are a number of historical sites that have been proclaimed national monuments in Namibia. They centre around the battle for land and livestock during the Nama and Herero wars, a siege by the Herero in a concerted effort to reclaim their land, and the ingenuity of the defeated in a prisoner-of-war camp. Their exploits and bravery are remembered in 3 historical sites that have been declared national monuments in Namibia. They are:

The need to alleviate the use of oxen as a primary means of transport along small, but vital distances from the Atlantic coast into the Namib Desert was of great concern to the German government in Namibia. A certain amount of human ingenuity was required to ensure some very cumbersome equipment to combat the transport of provisions, people and cargo arrived as quickly and as safely as possible. There are 5 national monuments that are part of the country's industrial heritage. They are:

Military Monuments

Military monuments protect the memory of those who fell in various conflicts instrumental in shaping Namibian history. They are different from other national monuments as they are man-made structures commemorating battles, specific military operations and a series of wars. Tere are 6 military monuments have been proclaimed as national monuments. They are:

Military fortifications

Fortifications are military constructions and buildings primarily designed for defence in times of war. Military fortifications were built mainly by the German Protectorate at the end of the 19th and into the 20th century. They also serve as military bases which included officers and other ranks living quarters, dining facilities, armouries and stables. The term is derived from the Latin fortis (strong) and facere (to make).

Until 1968 legislation did not exist for the environmental protection of a valuable natural site. Instead they were proclaimed as national monuments in terms of the Natural and Historical Monuments, Relics and Antiques Ordinance, 1948.

A padrão is a stone pillar topped by a cross. There are 2 of these monuments in Namibia:

Palaeontology is the scientific study of animals, plants and other organisms that lived in prehistoric times – that is, more than 5,500 years ago. Fossils are hardened remains of a prehistoric animal or plant preserved in rock because the organisms that are now fossils were alive when the rocks were being formed. They were buried and preserved as layers of rock piled up.

Palaeontologists can learn what kind of life existed in various periods of the earth's history. For instance, the oldest known fossils are bacteria that lived about 3½ billion years ago. There is a gradual increase in the complexity of animals and plants according to fossil records. This gradual change in body form is call evolution.

Accommodation in Namibia