The capital city of Kigali sits in the heart of Rwanda, acting as the economic, cultural and transport hub of the nation. It is nestled in a series small lush valleys and gentle ridges making a beautiful backdrop for the city. Irregular rows of red and yellow roofed houses stack on top of each other as they climb up the hillsides. In efforts to draw international tourists and business the city has been going through renovations to help create beautiful modern buildings and numerous coffee shops, markets, entertainment venues and restaurants. The downtown has maintained its air of authenticity of eras past, creating a city of interesting contrasts. The city may be developing into the modern world, but it has been inhabited by the Hutus, Tutsis and Twas tribes since the 11th century.
There are several touching memorials, museums and visitors centers that have been dedicated to the tragic Rwandan Genocide that destroyed the country just a few decades ago--these include the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center, the National Museum of Rwanda, The Kandt House Museum of Natural History and the Hotel Mille Collines, which was the real-life location of the stories told in the famous movie Hotel Rwanda. The Presidential Palace Museum offers guided tours of the lavish home of the former dictator President Habyarimana who ruled in from the 1970s until his death in 1994. Visitors may also venture into the Muslim Quarter, or one of the bustling markets for a taste of what the local life is like. The Dancing Pots Craft Center and the Cards for Africa workshop are wonderful places to purchase authentic hand-crafted souvenirs that celebrate local art and artists.