Fort Jesus is Mombasa’s Most popular tourist attraction. The Fort, located along the coastline near the Old Town, is a monumental piece of architecture that was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. The fort has a museum that displays various artifacts from the era where Mombasa served as a transit point for the slave trade and commodities, and which enjoyed regular visits by seafarers and the like. Its interior comprises of torture rooms and prison cells where slaves were kept in captivity before being traded. Weapons such as canons, which were used to defend the fort from invading foreigners as well as rioting locals, can be seen both inside and outside of the fort. The fort opens its gates for viewing in the morning and closes at dusk.
The Bombolulu workshops are located along the North coast of Mombasa. Bombolulu Workshops is a Project of the Association for the Physically Disabled in Kenya (APDK) and was founded in 1969. It is a major tourist attraction which consists of a Cultural Centre with 8 traditional homesteads. The Centre also runs a traditional Restaurant and guests are entertained with traditional dances throughout the day. The Centre is run by the “Association for the Physically Disabled” and employs 150-disabled craftsmen/women who produce jewelry, hand printed textiles, wood carvings and leather crafts. The products are sold in a large showroom and exported to 20 countries. Bombolulu Workshops have grown to be one of the biggest rehabilitation centres in Kenya and has built a reputation as one of Kenya’s most reliable exporters
On the North coast of Mombasa towards the town of Malindi lays one the most historic ruins found in Mombasa, called the Gedi Ruins. Gedi was a small town built entirely from rocks and stones, which was inhabited by a few thousand Swahili people and ruled by a very rich Sultan. These ruins date back from the 15th century, and through careful preservation most of the original foundations can still be seen today. A well-informed and educated guide gives a tour of the ruins. The ruins are designated as a National Museum by law, and their preservation are a direct reflection of the commitment of the Government to uphold the country’s cultural and historical background.
Hindu temples are one of the many symbols of Mombasa’s cultural diversity. Temples are a popular tourist spot and a tour can usually be taken inside the temple, with a historical background of the particular temple given by one of the temple gurus. Extravagant idols and stone carvings of the various religious beliefs are typically displayed within the temple and on its walls.
The Mombasa “Tusks” are symbolic representations of entrance into the heart of the town. The tusks were built to commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth to the town in 1952, as they lay directly on the path from the port to the town. Ivory was considered to be an exquisite commodity during the time, and in essence the tusks were meant to embrace the Queen and the British Empire into the town and within its social structure. Coincidentally the tusks also spell the letter “M” for Mombasa.