Namirembe Cathedral (1)
Located on the beautiful hilltop where the church sits, St Paul's Namirembe Cathedral is the largest protestant church in Uganda, holding histories of countless years that can be explored and learned. PHOTO/COURTESY

Namirembe Diocese is the first Diocese to be established in the Church of Uganda province, and Namirembe Cathedral is both the provincial cathedral and diocese’s cathedral.

The history of Christianity in Uganda is enthralling, intriguing, and awe-inspiring, especially the stories of the Namirembe Cathedral, how it came to be, and so much more. Keep reading to discover more secrets behind this great cathedral.

 Its real name is Saint Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe although most people prefer to call this place of worship Namirembe Cathedral. It’s certainly one of the tourist attractions to visit while on safari in Uganda.

History of the Namirembe Cathedral

Namirembe Diocese was the first diocese established in the Church of Uganda province, and the Namirembe Cathedral serves as the church’s provincial cathedral and diocese’s cathedral. 

The Cathedral was the provincial cathedral of the Church of Uganda, an Anglican Communion, from 1919 to 1967, when it closed. 

During the 1960s, the headquarters of the Church of Uganda was relocated from Namirembe to All Saints Church in Nakasero.

 Since the church’s founding, this is the fifth structure to house it. In addition to being built in a swampy environment, the first structure had to be abandoned due to an increased demand for space due to its construction. The second building’s roof was blown off in the storm, causing the church to be demolished. 

The third building, which had a capacity of 4,000 people, was then abandoned owing to termite concerns. Due to a fire, the fourth building was demolished. There have been four more churches built in the area. 

Between 1915 and 1919, the current St. Paul’s Cathedral was built out of clay bricks and earthen roof tiles. Still standing, but occasionally needing maintenance.

Within the cathedral’s walls, there is a great deal of history to be discovered. In and out, in front and back of the cathedral, in every nook and cranny. 

In addition to its stunning architecture, the church is a popular wedding and ceremony venue among Uganda’s upper class. An absolute must-see for religious believers. The tranquilly and serenity of this location have earned it a reputation as one of the best places in the world. 

In Luganda, the word “namirembe” means “peace sit.” At the top of Kampala’s most prominent hill, this magnificent cathedral is an impressive symbol of Christianity.

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Although Saint Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe is its official name, most people call it Namirembe Cathedral. PHOTO/VISIT KAMPALA

How the Cathedral came about

The Positive Organ Company (1922) Limited built the organ for St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe in 1931, which is the oldest cathedral in the Church of Uganda’s Anglican Communion. 

During the Second World War, the organ needed an overhaul, and Alfred E. Davis of Northampton, England, was entrusted with this task. 

After Idi Amin assumed control in 1971, the organ deteriorated significantly over the years of civil upheaval, resulting in the organ’s demise in 1993. 

In 1998, Peter Wells from the United Kingdom was asked to survey what was left and advise on the recovery. 

With Michael Sozi, then the chairman of the Organ Committee, in 1999, they came up with a detailed specification for the organ’s current operation.

Because of a lack of money, it was decided to divide the restoration project into multiple stages. 

When Peter and Ann Wells travelled to Uganda after Easter 1999, they installed new manual keyboards and action on the manual soundboards. The Great Mixture and Pedal Trombone were installed in 2006 and 2007 to complete the system.

Recent events at the Namirembe Cathedral

The cathedral played host to the enthronement of the Most Reverend Stanley Ntagali as the Church of Uganda’s 8th archbishop on December 16, 2012.

Three thousand people, including the Archbishops of North America and England’s York Diocese, Robert Duncan and John Sentamu, were in attendance. 

Archbishops from Burundi, England, the Indian Ocean, Kenya, the Middle East, Nigeria, Rwanda, Scotland, and Sudan were among the other participants. 

The President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, was also in attendance.

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On December 16, 2012, the cathedral hosted the enthronement of Stanley Ntagali as the Church of Uganda’s 8th archbishop. PHOTO/COURTESY

Why you should visit the Namirembe Cathedral

While in Kampala, you must pay a visit to Namirembe, it’s a necessity. Like we’ve seen, The Namirembe hill is located on a beautiful hill as you make your way to the cathedral, you’ll have a great view of the city, which is built into the hillside. 

You’re surrounded by a swarm of colourful birds of all shapes and sizes. Sundays are hectic and crowded.

And for as low as UGX 10000 there’s a guided tour for overseas nationals. You’ll learn about the cathedral’s history on this tour in detail. However, the trip to the cathedral, on the other hand, is far more worthwhile. 

Old Mahogany wood was used to build the structure, which has a stately feel to it. The relic of the Berlin Wall caught my eye.

Additionally, there are opportunities to shop for Christian relics both outside the church and in a few shops around the church. Just make sure that you have at least 45 minutes to spare. 

For some people, the goods can be a bit too religious but if you don’t mind, you can purchase whatever rhymes with your taste.

Places to visit around the Namirembe Cathedral

The cathedral is certainly a must-visit. 

However, if you have more time to spare, there are plenty of other tourist sites close to the church which you can as well visit. 

These places are also filled with fascinating sights. 

The following are the best sights near the Namirembe Cathedral in Kampala.

Conclusion

The St Paul’s Namirembe Cathedral is the largest protestant church in Uganda. It holds histories of so many years that are worth listening to as you tour the beautiful hill on which the church sits.

Last but not least, for an all-inclusive tour experience in Uganda, view our guide to Uganda Martyrs Shrine, The Bahai TempleWhite water raftingBungee JumpingVisit Mount MuhaburaGorillas in UgandaSsese Islands, Cost of Gorilla TrekkingMurchison Falls National ParkLake Mburo National Park and Semuliki National Park.