Skip to main content

National heritage sites

9.03 Namibia's national heritage sites9

9.03 thumbnail

9.03 thumbnail

In Namibia, 134 national heritage sites were proclaimed between 1950 and 2020. These include a variety of types of sites ranging from those that are home to natural phenomena and archaeology to those that represent the country's history, art and culture. Their locations largely mirror the unfolding of Namibia's written history. Almost half the sites relate to Namibia's short history of German rule between 1894 and 1914. Most are close to major towns in the historic 'Police Zone' covering the southern two-thirds of Namibia. Sites reflecting earlier exploration and settlement between 1484 and 1893 are predominantly in the coastal and south-central areas of the country.

Heritage sites associated with South African rule are clustered in the northern areas where many battles were fought during the liberation struggle. Few heritage sites have been proclaimed in the eastern and northeastern regions. All archaeological and rock art sites are legally protected in Namibia.


Photo: T Robertson

This fossilised tree trunk at the Petrified Forest is estimated to have grown some 280 million years ago. There are 18 fossil, geological and natural heritage sites in Namibia. Five fossil sites have been proclaimed to date but it is likely many more remain to be discovered. Three natural sites include various baobab trees in the north, while another proclaims the Quiver Tree Forest in the south. The Brandberg, fallen Mukorob sandstone pinnacle, Burnt Mountain, Fish River Canyon, Ghaub Cave and Lake Otjikoto are recognised as notable geological sites.


Photo: National Heritage Council

The Onelungo Ponds are one of 14 archaeological and cultural monuments. Following heavy rain, water collects in the ponds (locally known as eendobe). The ponds support indigenous fruit trees around their perimeters and fish that reproduce seasonally. In the tradition of Mbalantu people who live in that area, fishing was only allowed after one fish had been caught, roasted at the king's residence and then thrown back into the eendobe. That season's fishing in the Cuvelai's waters could then begin


Photo: J Mendelsohn

Moordkoppie (murder hill) is one of eight battlefields and historical sites that pay tribute to events in which many Namibians lost their lives. A historic battle was fought on and around this small hill in Okahandja on 23 August 1850 when Nama forces attacked and killed some 700 Herero.


Photo: J Wiedow

Buildings and monuments comprise 78 of the 134 proclaimed heritage sites, reflecting the historical value given to architecturally notable buildings. Most heritage buildings are in Karibib, Lüderitz, Omaruru, Swakopmund, Tsumeb and Windhoek. The only historical area that is conserved is in Swakopmund where the concentration of German colonial buildings defines the character of the town. This photo shows the Old Post Office in Keetmanshoop, which was built in 1910.


Photo: J Mendelsohn

There are four recognised industrial heritage sites, two of which are railway engines at the coast. The other two sites are historic windmills, located inland at Otjimbingwe and Outjo. In their respective ways, railways and windmills were influential. Railways had a major impact on trade in providing transport services, while windmills made groundwater available for farming and domestic use. Outjo's Stone Tower, shown here, was the base of a windmill built in 1900.


Photo: National Heritage Council of Namibia

Graves and graveyards are proclaimed at 15 sites. Only a small number of graves of noteworthy individuals that shaped Namibia's history have been declared heritage sites. Many mass graves and other gravesites relating to the genocide and liberation struggle are yet to be found and given due recognition as heritage sites. This is the commemorative stone and likely grave of Edward Cook, an English missionary, who founded Warmbad in 1834.