Mombasa Old Town Description

Mombasa Old Town reflects the diversity of the Arab, Asians and local communities that have inhabited it for centuries. It possesses a tangible sense of community while carrying an aura of rejuvenation from the restoration of many of its exquisitely-designed structures. Highlights include mosques, galleries, boutiques, and the fish market.

The old town of Mombasa where most of the heritage of this second largest city in Kenya is largely confined in, is an area of approximately 72 hactares, inhabitated by a richly diverse group of communities : locals, Arabs, Asians, Portuguese and the British which have co-existed for hundreds of years. The various social, political, religious and economic actvities of these groups have created a distinct character and culture which together has come to define this old town.

Mombasa Old Town
Mombasa Old Town

The visible aspect of this unique character is a collection of historical buildings dating from the 18th century which combines, African, Arabic and European influences. Many of these buildings still exist, in beautifully carved doors as well as elegantly styled balconies attached to their turn of the century facades.

 Things to do at Mombasa Old Town

Visit Fort Jesus

Fort Jesus is perhaps the most popular attraction in the Old Town. The fort was built in 1593 by the Portuguese, but later used by the Arabs as torture rooms, prison cells where slaves were kept in captivity before being shipped away. Although it is partly damaged, Fort Jesus is a fine display of 16th-century Portuguese military architecture. Enjoy the exhibition of the wide collection of ceramics and pottery reflecting the various cultures that traded along the coast.

A walk at the Old Town

Known for its heavy historical Arabic influence, its ancient buildings, amazing architecture with extravagant art designs that teleport you back in time.  Take your camera with you to capture the narrow streets, bordered by old buildings with ornately carved doors and balconies. Stop by one of the many shops that sell antiques, souvenirs, spices and fragrance oils, and dine at one of the many cafés in the area if you get hungry.

Photograph the Mombasa Tusks

Just a little outside of the Old Town, on Moi Avenue, you’ll find the famous Mombasa Elephant Tusks. A trip to Mombasa is incomplete unless you take a photo next to the tusks. The intersecting tusks, made from aluminum, form the letter ‘M’ for Mombasa and mark the entrance to the heart of the city. From a distance, the aluminum tusks resemble elephant ivory and are nicknamed ‘Pembe Za Ndovu’ by the locals, a Swahili word meaning elephant ivory.

Mombasa Old Town Contacts

Attraction Type: Culture
Category: Community Tourism, Mosque, Temple
Region: Coast
City / Town: Mombasa
Road / Street: Ndia Kuu Road
Telephone: 254 20 374 2131
254 721 308485
Entrance Fee: Yes

Watch a Video of Mombasa Old Town