My favorite part of Mombasa was Old Town, located on the southeast side of the city and home to an eclectic and well-preserved mix of architecture that is a reminder of the city’s tapestry of influences over the centuries that has made it so diverse today.
Mombasa Old Town Photo Essay
We awoke before dawn just so we could visit Mombassa Old Town prior to our early flight to Nairobi. That meant we were unable to actually enter Fort Jesus, a well-preserved 16th Portuguese military fortification designed by Giovanni Battista Cairati (and now a UNESCO World Heritage site). It also meant that most shops were closed so I did not even get a cup of coffee.
Even so (and much like Stone Town in Zanzibar), I was memorized by the architecture, that combined elements of Swahili, Portuguese, and Arab design. Most stunning were the intricately carved wooden doors, but I also quite enjoyed entering a (very pungent) fish market that has been open daily for hundreds of years. Life is slower here.
Perhaps most memorable of all was walking by a madrasa, filled with young boys all wearing matching white garb and an imam teaching them. While over 85% of Kenyans identify as Christian, there is a large Muslim population in Mombasa that goes back hundreds of years to the days of a flourishing Arab slave trade.
There’s a White House here too..and even linked to the USA. This building served as the first US consulate in Kenya from 1915 to 1918.
Other points of interest include the Old Post Office, Mombasa Club (where Queen Elizabeth II stayed in 1963 while present for Kenya’s independence ceremonies), and the Mandhry Mosque, a house of worship that dates back to 1570.
Old Town is a must-visit part of Mombasa.