Mombasa is situated in southeast of Kenya along the Indian ocean on the coralline Island. Mombasa is the major Kenyan sea port, second largest city and main tourist destination in the country. Before Nairobi was given a capital city status in 1907, the coastal town was the first capital of British East Africa.
Tudor creeks in the north and Port Reitz in the south are the two creeks that separate Mombasa from the main land. Mombasa town is therefore in the centre of Mombasa Island, trade and coastal tourism in Kenya. It is also home to one of Kenya’s state house and Moi International Airport.
Mombasa’s establishment is associated with two ancient rulers – Shehe Mvita and Mwana Mkusi who is the original ancestor of Mombasa’s oldest lineages with in “Twelve nations”. She was the Queen of pre-Islamic era and founded the original urban settlement on the island called Kongowea. The great Swahili Culture today in Mombasa traces its journey from Shehe Mvitaff, a prominent Muslim who built the first permanent stone Mosque “Mnara” on the Island. The ancient history associated with these two and the founding of the urban settlement on the Island is somehow spiritual and the “twelve nations” are the keepers of local Swahili traditions.
Initially, Bantu speaking people were the original inhabitants of Mombasa before it was established as a prominent port for trade that it is today. They engaged in various activities for survival including local trading, fishing and farmimg.
In 1498, it was visited by a one Portuguese navigator Vasco Da Garma after Ibn Battutah who was the first Arab traveler to visit this place in 1331. It was then the capital of East African Protectorate under the British Administration from 1895 to 1907. However, before 1840 when it had come under the control of Sultan of Zanzibar, it was insistently fought for by the Arabs, Persians, Turks and Portuguese. This was largely due to its strategic location, valuable trade along the coast, vibrant African culture and lifestyle.
When the Moroccan Scholar Ibn Battuta first visited Mombasa, he noted that it was a religious city dominated by Shafi Muslims and they were honest and trustworthy people with wooden mosques. The most precise day for the establishment of the City is still unknown.
Mombasa homes Kilindini harbor on the west and Mombasa Old Port in the east and the Old port is used only by small crafts and dhows doing trade in India, Gulf of Persia and Arabia while Kilindini in a landlocked area is a modern deep water port with various economic activities. Most of its cultural and historical spots and attractions are on the bucket list of every traveler.
Through its exportation, Mombasa market is available for it supports local communities as its consumer for agricultural products including coconuts, cotton, kapok and sisal. It is located along with metal and cement companies, ship building and repair.
Vasco Da Garma. He was born in 1460 from Sines in Portugal and died from Cochin in India in 1524 famously known as the first European to visit Mombasa. This is where the Portuguese Influence started from and within two years, they had already occupied the Island.
There are countless old mosques in Mombasa and Kenya at large and this is due to the strong Arab culture that traces its old days in the country. A number of Hindu temples and Christian churches can also be encountered and have been there since may years ago.
The following are the top religious centers in Mombasa.
This beautiful mosque offers stunning ocean views due to its proximity to the old harbor. There are also a variety of narrow Arab style streets with beautiful historic homes in this district.
This magnificent mosque faces the ocean due to its proximity to the old harbor just like many of the mosques in Mombasa. It is the largest mosque in Mombasa and the best in Islamic architecture of Mombasa. All its surrounding buildings and Its self are high end quality massive buildings tracing its old days from centuries ago of Muslim period.
This is a very fascinating place of worship and one of Mombasa’s top historical sites constructed in 1902. It also offers splendid views of the ocean due to its location on the top of the cliff in Mombasa. This is a must see for all visitors in this city as it has a high end architectural design and great views.
This church traces its origin from the old days of British colonialism. To fit in with the local architecture, the church almost has similar looks to that of many mosques in Mombasa. It is white in color with arches and a silver-colored dome.
There are also a number of temples in Mombasa city and these include;
Hindu architecture in Kenya speaks volumes especially when one comes across this magnificent temple. Visitors come from all over the world just to sight its stunning beauty. The temple’s full name is “The Shree Cutch Satsang Swaminarayan”. It’s interior portrays the way of life of the Gujarati people.
This white magnificent temple is decorated with a number of figurines and sculptures while being a religious and historical site of Mombasa. No matter what your faith is, the attractiveness of this building can still catch up your attention. Jain community members come from all over the world to pray from this place.
Surfing addicts, lovers of relaxed beach resorts, watersports addicts and those interested in soft white sands, Mombasa is the right spot and worthy of many visits.
This is one of the best beaches for surfing in Mombasa and it is close to the Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve. This beach favors those who visit for family outings, swimming, snorkeling, surfing and other water sports. Visitors who prefer the solitude feeling and don’t enjoy over crowded places, Nyali is the right spot due to its proximity to Mombasa. It is located along the north coast and just a few miles from Mombasa with scenic beauty.
This is a perfect beach for diving vacations and is very charming due to its neatness, cool relaxation spots and it is not over crowded at all. It traces its name from the nearest Bamburi Beach Hotel and is one of the visitors’ favorites in Mombasa.
It is famously known for its nice high-end restaurants and world class resorts. It is also a very popular neighborhood in Mombasa.
This is one of the prominent and best beaches in Kenya and just a few miles from Mombasa city centre. It lies between Nyali Beach and Pirates Beach. It also neighbors the best restaurants, diving sites and shopping malls. Visitors who prefer long walks in soft sand, snorkeling and surfing this is the right spot to be.
This is one of the best public beaches in Mombasa and is also known as Jomo Kenyatta beach. Locals from the upcountry towns and travelers who love to have fun, Pirates Beach is the right spot to hit. Due to its proximity to the coastal town, it supports shops and restaurants favoring family entertainment, swimming activities and beach sports.
A variety of theaters including the Makueni Video Show, and the famous Nyali Cinemax; A very stunning spot to chill out with friends and family and have a 3D experience of movies.
The famous “Mogo” is the very first kind of food that will catch your attention the moment you reach Mombasa, seen all over its streets. The root tuber is widely consumed and grown in areas around Mombasa.
Any traveler, visitor and guest should interestingly tattoo it in their mind that Mombasa is famously known for its unique style of preparing meals, uniquely enough and not any part of East Africa. Mombasa uniquely blends the Indian cuisine with the British and Swahili culture way of preparing meals that are interestingly and particularly made in this City and not in any other part of the world. Unique flavors and exceptional cuisines are the experience that is worthy for city’s more visits.
Mombasa has a wide food and drink history culture. A good number of the coastal city’s restaurants can be encountered in the city and they prepare meals locally and traditionally that have attracted more visitors in the area.
You can taste a variety of foods and cuisines from Indian Sher-e-Punjab to desserts and their restaurants are more of back side views that offer comfort, relaxation and that ambiance vibe you don’t want to miss.
The Portuguese 16th century fort built in Mombasa in the year 1593 and 1596 is famously known all over the world. It was given the name of Jesus and built in the shape of a man while it’s being viewed from the air. It was designed by Giovanni Baptista Cairati, a famous Italian Architecture on the orders of King Phillippe II of Spain for the protection of the Port of Mombasa.
Fort Jesus’ physicality, it’s subsequent transformations, layout and form, design, architectural theory with a mixture of Arab, Africa, Turkish, European and Persian cultural values exceptionally and interestingly stunning that visitors come from all over the world just to learn, explore and view this magnificent Fort.
Made of mural interior, five bastions and meter thick walls that traces its history from the military architectural theory of the renaissance in a period when cultural, political and commercial globalization were highly emerging. It was the first successful attempt by the Western civilization to rule the Indian Ocean trade routes. It covers an area of 2.36 hectares including the Fort’s immediate surroundings and Moet.
Architecture addicts, this place will not leave you the same and at the end of the day, one would realize it’s worthy of more visits with a lot of interesting goods and products, from beautiful Art pieces, restaurants to street markets. Old Town historic district is located just around Fort Jesus.
A famous Monument known for its giant pair of Elephant tusks made of Aluminum and it was established in 1956 for commemoration of Princess Margaret’s visit to Mombasa.
This magnificent historical site was built in the 14th century and said to have been abandoned in the 15th Century. The remaining are now holding tombs, houses and Mosques. Due to its awesome views and soothing feeling one would realize how humans and nature lived together peacefully in the last century.