Nyeri County is one of the five counties in Central Kenya. The rest include Kiambu, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, and Nyandarua. Besides coffee and tea farming, the county has many attractions for adventurers and history fans.
Best Attractions & Places to Visit in Nyeri County
Italian war memorial Church, Nyeri
Located at Mathari, The Italian War Memorial Church was built in honor of the fallen Italian soldiers and their African recruits from WW2. The church is only used to celebrate a special mass every second September of the year in memory of the soldiers.
On the entire walling of the main church building are memorials for the Italian servicemen who died during WWII. Each memorial is in the form of a small oblong plaque indicating the name of the soldier, the battalion he served in, and the place where he died.
At the far front before the altar is the grave of a senior Italian Army officer. His statue and military paraphernalia from the war are placed in a marble, grave. The beauty of the architectural design, the authentic Italian décor, the final finishes, and the well-placed bronze and copper plagues make the church a site to behold.
Mau Mau Cave and the Fig Tree
The Mau Mau cave is found inside the Aberdare forest – Aberdare National Park. The cave was the forest hideout of Kenya’s independence war hero and Mau Mau leader, Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi.
On the other hand, the Fig tree is a gigantic tree deep inside the Aberdare forest. It was used by Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi and other freedom fighters as a post office.
Pax-Tu House and Baden Powell Grave in Nyeri
Pax Tu house is the home of the founder of the Scouts movement, Lord Baden Powell. Located inside the Outspan Hotel in Nyeri, it was built for him as a recovery home in 1927 by his best friend and former personal secretary, Eric Sherbrook Walker. Mr. Walker built the house in the same design as Lord Powell’s house in Britain. He named it “Pax Tu” after the hill where Baden Powell’s home in England was located. Room 45 of the Outspan Hotel was Lord Baden Powell’s bedroom and is open to guests at an extra cost.
In 1937, Lord Baden Powell failing health triggered his move to Nyeri where he spent his last four years at Pax Tu House. He died in 1941 and was buried at the “Baden Powell Grave” located in Nyeri town.
Other Notable Monuments and Historical Sites in Central Region
The list of places to visit in Nyeri County cannot be complete without mentioning the following sites located in Kiambu and Muranga Counties – In Mt. Kenya Region.
PCEA Church of the Torch in Kikuyu
In 1888, the missionary Rev, Watson Scott of the Church of Scotland arrived in Thogoto in Kikuyu to start a mission. He established the Thogoto Mission Center about 20 kilometers North – West of Nairobi.
The missionaries trained early African Christian leaders to read the Bible spread the word and act as interpreters of the Christian message.
Thogoto, therefore, became one of the earliest centers of learning in the country with schools such as Alliance High School admitting native Kenyans.
It is at the Church of Scotland Mission that Kenya’s first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta had his early education in 1909. The Church of Scotland later changed its name to PCEA (Presbyterian Church of East Africa).
AIC Kijabe Church Ruins
AIC Kijabe Church was built in 1895 in Kijabe town. Located at the edge of the Great Rift Valley Escarpment, Kijabe translates to “Windy” in the Maasai dialect. It is a town overlooking breathtaking scenes across the Rift Valley.
Kijabe town is about 6,000 feet above sea level, has a cool climate, and has a water spring with Sulphur at the foot of the slopes which attracts a lot of people for its healing and medicinal qualities.
However, the original church was brought down by villagers, after they deemed it unsafe for use. Some ruins and the original church bell housing still stand in the compound.
In 1957, a new church was built under the guidance of Local elders. And, stands today next to the ruins of the original church.
Mukurwe Wa Nyagathanga, Nyeri
Mukurwe Wa Nyagathanga in Murang’a town is a mythical home of Gikuyu and Mumbi, the founders of Kikuyu community. It is also the location of the “Handu Hatheru”, Agikuyu Shrine.
According to the Kikuyu legend, “Gikuyu”, the father of the community, was commanded by God to settle in a place where he would find a big Mukurwe tree as well as birds called Nyagathanga. This is where the site acquired its name from.
Located about 20Km south-east of Nyeri town, Mukurwe Wa Nyagathanga has a model Kikuyu homestead. It also harbors construction remains of a hotel that was abandoned after Kikuyu seers cursed it as unfit for the holy site.
Mugumo Gardens in Thika, Kenya
Mugumo Gardens is a historical site in Thika that holds the remains of Kenya’s forgotten monuments, including a Mugumo tree. In 1948, Kikuyu seers led by the legendary Mugo Wa Kibiru made a trench and prophesied that 10 years after the colonial forces crossed that trench, this Mugumo tree in Thika would fall and Kenya would gain independence.
On 1st June 1953 Mau Mau fighters enticed some British army soldiers to cross the trench by camping near the trench and taunting them thus forcing them to give chase and inadvertently cross the trench.
Immediately, the colonial government fortified the tree with the concrete structure seen today. Despite their efforts, the Mugumo tree split into two parts and fell in two stages in 1963. Kenya got independence in the same year as the seers that prophesied.
Other Attractions in Nyeri, County
- Karima Hill
- Naromoru Mau Mau Cave
- Dedan Kimathi’s Trench
- Ichagaki Parish Church
- Naromoru Mau Mau Cave
- Old Clock Tower in Nyeri
- National Museums of Kenya – Nyeri
- Nyeri Club
- Queen Elizabeth Monument