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A Brief History of Mombasa and Why this Could be the Trip of a Lifetime

Fort Jesus in Mombasa, Kenya

Fort Jesus in Mombasa, Kenya

Now that you’re planning your trip to Mombasa, this really could be the trip of a lifetime. In order to make the most out of this vacation or business trip, it’s good to know the history of your destination.

Mombasa was initially designed as an important port of entry that led to the Indian Ocean. Trade routes with China, Persia, and India had been established by the 15th century. It is actually the largest port on the eastern coast of Africa.

Many foreign invaders have taken over this important port city, including the Portuguese and British forces. The British actually ruled Mombasa beginning in the late 19th century. The British leased a part of the coast to the king of Zanzibar until Mombasa was eventually ceded to Kenya in 1963.

One of the most significant cultural and historical attractions throughout Mombasa is a Fort Jesus. This was built as a way to protect the harbor in 1593. The Portuguese built it to defend against local enemies and other incoming warships. You can visit this fort and a variety of small museums that highlight how life had been during that period of time. If you visit Fort Jesus, make sure to spend some time in the Omani House where you can see Swahili life and incredible views of Old Town.

One interesting fact about Mombasa is that even though this city was settled centuries ago, most of the houses throughout Old Town and the rest of the city are no older than 100 years. Many of the architectural roots of these buildings are based in Swahili architecture.

The crossed ivory elephant tusks are a famous landmark in Mombasa and they were erected in 1953 to commemorate Elizabeth II’s coronation.

When you visit Mombasa, you will dive into an incredible wealth of history and culture. Just about everywhere you turn will be another experience to behold and share with your friends and family when you return home.