The Great Zimbabwe National Monument is located near Lake Mutirikwe, and the town of Masvingo. It is where the Great Zimbabwe Empire ruled, and is the biggest ancient structure in Southern Africa. Great Zimbabwe was a medieval empire, that was established during the 11th century, by ancestors of the Shona people. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe. The site is divided into three main areas: The Hill Complex, The Great Enclosure, and The Valley Ruins. The Hill Complex is believed to have been the spiritual and religious centre of the city. The Great Enclosure is where it is believed the Zimbabwean monarch resided. And the citizens are believed to have resided where the Valley Ruins are located.
Great Zimbabwe was a seat of political power, and an economic powerhouse that traded in gold, iron, copper and cowrie shells. They traded with countries like China, Persia and East Africa. They also produced axes, beads, jewelry and knives. They were also involved in the farming of cattle, and the cultivation of crops. The empire was abandoned during the 15th century, and it fell into ruins. In 1986, the site became an UNESCO World Heritage Site.