uMgungundlovu was the capital of the Zulu kingdom during the reign of King Dingane. It was occupied from 1829 until 1838. A state of the art multimedia center has been constructed here, in the heart of the Valley of Zulu Kings. Facilities include the Mgungundlovu Reconstruction and the graves of Inkosinkulu and Piet Retief.
Umgungundlovu, situated just south of the White Umfolozi River in northern Natal offers a fascinating glimpse into the mind of this Zulu king. The process by which the royal capital of Dingane is being raised from its ashes is fascinating. A tour of Umgungundlovu will take you past completed huts, thus providing you with an opportunity to study both hut-building techniques and the social life of the Zulu. Finally, your walk will culminate at the grave of Voortrekker leader Piet Retief, whose death here was a significant and controversial chapter in the history of the country.
Umgungundlovu’s function was that of military settlement and Dingane's royal capital. More or less oval in shape, it consisted of some 1700 huts that could house up to 7,000 residents. Standing six to eight deep, the huts formed a huge circle around an open arena known as the large cattle kraal, a space also used for military parades and gatherings. The circle of huts was enclosed both inside and out by a strong palisade. King Dingane, his mistresses and female attendants resided here.
Archaeological excavations have revealed that the king’s private hut, with a diameter of approximately 10 m, was probably the largest hut ever built in the traditional Zulu manner. It was supported by 22 posts entirely covered in glass beads, of which the molten remains have been recovered.
Photo by John A. Forbes