Mombasa is the gateway to Kenya’s Coast and is the country’s second largest city. The town has a recorded history going back to two thousand years. Mombasa is still the major port of East Africa, and has a harmonious mixture of the ancient and the modern. It has a harmonious blending of the great cultures of Africa, Asia and Europe. The Old Town which lies next to the old port is a fascinating place of antiquity worth seeing.
Fort Jesus is Mombasa’s biggest tourist attraction and dominates the harbour entrance. It is still an imposing edifice, despite being partially ruined. The fort was built by the Portuguese in 1593 to enforce their rule over the coastal Swahilis, but they rarely managed to hold onto it for long, as it changed hands at least nine times in bloody sieges between 1631 and 1875, before finally passing into the hands of the British.
While Mombasa’s Old Town doesn’t quite have the medieval charm of Lamu or Zanzibar, it is still an interesting area to wander around. The houses here are characteristic of coastal East African architecture, with ornately carved doors and window frames and fretwork balconies, designed to protect the modesty of the female inhabitants.
Mombasa has some interesting mosques but non Muslims are usually not permitted to enter; these include, Mandhry, Basheikh and Memon Mosque.
Other religious buildings include, Lord Shiva Temple and Swaminarayan Temple.
Luxury dhow cruises around the harbour are very popular in Mombasa and not withstanding the price, they are an excellent way to see the harbour, Old Town and Fort Jesus and get a slap-up meal at the end of it.